Georgia Democrats have announced a list of five finalists to replace John Lewis on the ballot for November’s congressional elections.
The civil rights leader, who had represented the fifth district since 1987, died on Friday aged 80. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. Funeral plans have not yet been announced.
A state senator, a state representative, the head of the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an Atlanta city councilman and the former president of a prominent historically black college are in the running to replace him.
The winner will face the Republican Angela Stanton-King in November. Stanton-King is a reality TV personality who was pardoned earlier this year by Donald Trump for her role in a stolen car ring, after serving six months of home confinement in 2007.
In March, Stanton-King caused controversy when she equated LGBTQ rights with pedophilia, telling NBC News she was “very concerned about the whole LGBTQ movement and the way it sexualizes children”. She also said she was “not against LGBTQ rights like same-sex marriage”.
Lewis won more than 84% of the vote when he last faced a Republican in the district, in 2016.
A select group of Georgia Democrats sifted through 131 applications to decide who will replace Lewis on the ballot in a district which includes parts of Atlanta. The group included the Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and former state House minority leader and gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, both potential vice-presidential picks for Joe Biden.
The five selected were to be considered at a meeting of the state party’s executive committee later on Monday.
They are: state senator Nikema Williams; state representative Park Cannon; Georgia NAACP president James Woodall; Atlanta city councilman Andre Dickens; and Robert Franklin, a former president of Morehouse College in Atlanta.
The seat will remain empty until Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, schedules a special election. The Republican, who beat Abrams in a 2018 election widely said to have been swung by his own voter suppression efforts as secretary of state, has given no indication when he will do so.
Kemp declared flags in the state will be at half-staff until sunset of the day of Lewis’s funeral. On Sunday, hundreds gathered at a giant mural of Lewis near his Atlanta home.
Flowers, balloons, photos, candles and cards piled up at the base of the building, on which “HERO” is written above a painting of Lewis speaking.