Gwinnett chair candidate drops out of race after making primary runoff

Nicole Love Hendrickson will be the Democratic candidate for chairman of the Gwinnett County commission.

Hendrickson finished the five-candidate race just shy of 50% of the vote. But Thursday, after a recount put him into the second-place position by 13 votes, Lee Thompson Jr. said he would suspend his campaign and ask Democrats to support Hendrickson instead.

"Rather than spend six more weeks working against each other, I want us to unite in support of Nicole's campaign and begin working toward making her the first Democratic candidate to be elected Gwinnett County Commission Chair in over thirty-five years," Thompson wrote in a lengthy Facebook post announcing that he would not compete in the Aug. 11 runoff.

Thompson said in the post that he ran to make sure every person is treated with dignity and respect and to create an atmosphere of unity and inclusion. Runoff elections reduce minority voting strength because older and more traditional voters tend to vote in them more often, he said.

Thompson, who is white, said that Hendrickson — a Black woman who is 20 years younger than he is — has a better opportunity to give a voice to people who feel excluded from government.

“I said I wanted to make sure that all voices are heard,” he wrote. “I said that I would contribute all my energies and means to making sure that I am not part of the problem as we strive for unity and inclusion. Now it is time to decide if I really meant what I said.”

Hendrickson will face Republican David Post in November.