John Lewis is running for re-election in 2016

WASHINGTON -- The longest-serving member of the Georgia delegation, Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis, will seek a 16th term next year, Lewis told the AJC.

Candidate qualifying is not until March but this is the time of year when retirement announcements start to pick up, so we put the question to Lewis, 75, as he left the House floor on Tuesday of whether he's running again. His reply:

"Yes, yes. I'm doing it. I'm doing it. I know there are a few people who think: 'Oh, maybe he's going to give it up.' But I'm not giving it up. Not now. Thank you for asking me."

Lewis was first elected in 1986 in a vicious intraparty battle with the late Julian Bond and has not had a tough race since. Lewis is a senior member on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, but his primary job is leveraging his status as a civil rights icon to speak out on causes such as voting rights and immigration reform.

Lewis' wife, Lillian Miles Lewis, died in 2012, but Lewis has shown no signs of slowing down since then. He is a frequent traveler across the country to accept awards, give commencement speeches and commemorate civil rights era milestones.

Lewis also manages to keep a sunny disposition in the face of continued gridlock. When asked Tuesday if the House GOP leadership turmoil will lead to any improvements, Lewis said:

"It is my hope that things will change for the better. You know, I think we have to do it. And with the pope coming and speaking and urging members of Congress to engage in dialogue, I think things will get better. I hope so."

Plenty of Atlanta Democrats have been eyeing the 5th Congressional District seat, but it looks like they'll have to wait a while longer.