Georgia's Williams ducks debate in race for John Lewis' seat

FILE - In this file image from video, Georgia State Sen. Nikema Williams speaks during the state roll call vote during the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Williams' campaign informed organizers she will not participate in a virtual debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting set for Oct. 12 against Republican Angela Stanton-King, Atlanta Press Club, debate organizer Lauri Strauss said Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP, File)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

State Sen. Nikema Williams has declined a debate against her long-shot Republican opponent in the race for an Atlanta congressional seat previously held by the late Rep. John Lewis

Atlanta (AP) — After state party leaders handed her the Democratic nomination for an Atlanta congressional seat previously held by the late Rep. John Lewis, state Sen. Nikema Williams has declined a debate against her long-shot Republican opponent.

Williams' campaign informed organizers she will not participate in a virtual debate hosted by the Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting set for Oct. 12 against Republican Angela Stanton-King, Atlanta Press Club debate organizer Lauri Strauss said Tuesday.

“We understand that it’s an unusual time and schedules are busy,” Strauss said. “We just really hoped to provide an opportunity for the public to get to know who she is before people head to the polls.”

Williams' campaign has not responded to calls, texts or an email requesting comment. But she responded on Twitter, saying she’s “a parent with a child in virtual kindergarten also working” full time.

Williams was selected in July by the executive committee of the Democratic Party of Georgia to replace Lewis’ name on the ballot on Nov. 3, after the longtime congressman and civil rights leader’s death following a battle with pancreatic cancer. She’s roundly favored to win in Georgia’s heavily Democratic 5th Congressional District.

Williams also declined to face voters in a Sept. 29 special election for the brief remainder of Lewis’ current term, which has drawn seven other office seekers.

Stanton-King is an author and former reality show cast member pardoned by President Donald Trump earlier this year for her part in a stolen car ring, after serving six months of home confinement in 2007. She has also decided to sidestep the Sept. 29 special election.

Strauss said organizers will still provide a forum for Stanton-King, who accepted the debate, to answer questions from a moderator and journalist during the scheduled time.