Her part will be attempting to defeat Lewis, a Trump nemesis who has repeatedly called his presidency illegitimate.
In December, Lewis announced that he was battling pancreatic cancer. But even with his diagnosis, the 80-year-old former civil rights leader said that he always intended to run for the seat he’s held for 17 terms representing Georgia’s 5th Congressional District. On Monday, the first day of qualifying, he signed his name.
Also running for the seat is another Democrat, Barrington Martin.
"I'm honored to be running for my 18th term in Congress representing the citizens of Georgia's 5th district. My constituents know me, they know my record, and they know that I have fought tirelessly for them for the last 33 years,” Lewis said in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There is still much work left to do on guaranteeing civil rights to all people in this country, protecting and expanding access to health care, and ensuring that every American can freely cast a vote regardless of race or resources. With the support of my constituents, I look forward to getting into more good trouble in the years ahead."
Santon-King, a political neophyte, is the goddaughter of Alveda King, an anti-abortion advocate and Trump ally. King is also a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Lewis’ mentor during the civil rights movement.
“Whenever I think about Rep. John Lewis, the image I have in my head is him on the Selma bridge. I have the utmost respect for the contributions that he has made to black America,” Stanton-King said, referring to the congressman’s role during the 1965 march on Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, a milestone of the civil rights era. “However, this isn’t the Selma bridge, and our babies are dying. It is time for war.”
The war Stanton-King is talking about is what she calls a Democratic war supporting abortion.
She said the abortion issue will be at the top of her campaign agenda, along with criminal justice and the re-entry of inmates back into society once they’re released from prison.
“I have never run for office and I don’t have political experience,” Stanton-King said. “But I do have life experiences.”
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Stanton-King said both her mother and grandmother died while she was in jail. She said that in 2004 she gave birth to a daughter in jail while handcuffed to a bed.
In 2007, after serving time in several state prisons, Stanton-King served a six-month home confinement sentence for her role in the stolen-vehicle ring.
Stanton-King is the founder of the American King Foundation, a nonprofit working on criminal justice, and she also serves as the community outreach coordinator for The Alive Center. She appeared in the BET Network docuseries “From the Bottom Up” but is perhaps best known for her 2012 book, “Life of a Real Housewife.”
In the book — originally published under the name Angela Stanton as “Lies of a Real Housewife” — Stanton-King wrote that she and former “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Phaedra Parks and Parks’ former husband, Apollo Nida, were involved in various criminal enterprises, including forgery and a complicated “federal racketeering scheme” aimed at stealing luxury cars. Parks filed a $30 million lawsuit against Stanton-King.
The case was dismissed in 2016.
In a statement by the White House following her Feb. 18 pardoning, Trump said: “(Stanton-King) overcame a difficult childhood to become a champion for redemption and rehabilitation for all who strive for a better life.”
“Today, (Stanton-King) is a national best-selling author, widely acclaimed television personality, and proponent of criminal justice reform,” the statement read. “She works tirelessly to improve reentry outcomes for people returning to their communities upon release from prison, focusing on the critical role of families in the process. This pardon is supported by Alveda King.”
Others pardoned that day included “junk bond king” Michael R. Milken and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who tried to sell the U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated after he was elected president.
King, who does not publicy endorse candidates, said she “is praying” for her goddaughter.
“I turned my life around. I have completely redeemed my life,” Stanton-King said. “This race is not about me trying to beat John Lewis. It is about carrying the torch and picking up the fight. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”