Replacing John Lewis: The Ultimate Inside Job?

As ghoulish as it may seem for Democrats to be jockeying to replace the late Rep. John Lewis in the House of Representatives, so soon after his passing, Georgia election law doesn’t give them much of a choice. The OCGA 21-2-134(b)(1)(B) says they have to replace Lewis’ name on the ballot by 4:00 PM “the next business day.” So an unseemly Dem-on-Dem political scramble has been underway all weekend, as a vetting committee combs through resumes and calculates which favored insiders are going to be forwarded to the 45-member state party executive committee who will then choose which most favored insider is going to be handed a congressional seat for the rest of their life. 

It seems the Democrats have borrowed the page from the playbook of Governor Brian Kemp for filling vacancies in Congress, and are using “…a reckless process where political games were put ahead of the public good…” according to Democrat state party chair Nikema Williams (the most likely beneficiary of the current reckless process) last December. The irony here is *chef’s kiss* perfect, but anointing a replacement for a man who spent his life marching and fighting for people’s right to vote seems kind of pathetic and sad. Especially when the smoke-filled virtual room isn’t the only option for Democrats.

They could let the people of the 5th congressional district make that decision themselves by appointing a replacement for Lewis who simply promises not to run for reelection. That person would hold the seat for a two-year term while all the other ambitious politicians made their cases to Democrat primary voters. They would have ample time to audition for the people who really matter -the voters of the 5th district, rather than some unknown party insiders. Is it likely? Well, it would be a noble thing for someone to do, and we’re talking about politics and ambition here. But it would give Georgia Democrats a chance to show themselves as better than Republicans. 

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.


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