The two Democrats had emerged from a crowded special election in September. Since neither had captured a majority of the vote, they were forced into another contest to determine who would fill the remainder of Lewis’s term, which ends Jan. 3.
While Hall was the winner Tuesday, he will hand off the duties of the job to Rep.-elect Nikema Williams, who won the seat and a two-year term Nov. 3, easily beating Republican nominee Angela Stanton-King. Williams, 42, was first elected to the Georgia Senate in 2017, and two years later she became the first Black woman to chair the Georgia Democratic Party.
Williams, who will be sworn in with other House members in early January, has shuttled between Washington and her home in Georgia since Nov. 12, when the House held the first round of freshman orientation. She was asked to second House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nomination for speaker during the Democratic caucus.
She says her husband worked for Lewis, both in Washington and Atlanta, for eight years, and she knew the congressman well. She described Lewis as her public-servant role model and said she is awed to be taking over his seat.
Lewis, widely considered the conscience of Congress, died July 17 at 80. He had pancreatic cancer.
“I don’t know how much time the voters of the 5th District are going to want me to serve here, so I plan on doing as much good as I can while I’m here. Number one on my agenda is making sure we get a national response to this pandemic. … I understand how dire it is for so many people, especially in the Black community that I serve back in Atlanta,” she said.
Williams was diagnosed with covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which knocked her off her feet for three weeks. Although she had to go to the emergency room once, she said she was not hospitalized.
She said her other main focus as congresswoman will be on fighting for passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
“I believe each generation has an obligation to move us one step closer to equality,” she said. She said voting rights are necessary to allow people to vote for the people and policies that best serve them.
The House returns from its holiday break Wednesday and will face several crucial votes in the lame-duck session, including on legislation to keep the government operating, a bill that sets policy for the Defense Department and a possible coronavirus relief package.
The Trump administration and Congress face a Dec. 11 deadline to avert a government shutdown.