Georgia Democrats reelect Nikema Williams as chair, regroup for next election

Congresswoman Nikema Williams speaks at the Democratic Party of Georgia’s State Convention in Columbus, Georgia, Saturday, August 27, 2022. She also is the state party chair. (Photo: Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com))

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Congresswoman Nikema Williams speaks at the Democratic Party of Georgia’s State Convention in Columbus, Georgia, Saturday, August 27, 2022. She also is the state party chair. (Photo: Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com))

Nearly 300 Georgia Democrats who gathered to elect the party’s leadership Saturday had one message: There is work to be done.

The past two years have had highs and lows for state Democrats. Democrats running statewide lost nearly every race in November, just two years after helping send Joe Biden to the White House and sending Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to the U.S. Senate, flipping the seats from two Republicans.

Ossoff, addressing the crowd gathered in Atlanta, said the results, where Warnock was the only statewide Democratic candidate to win his race in the most recent election, are a “cautionary tale.”

“I’m always going to shoot straight with you, so let me say this: The outcome in November, a month before we reelected Sen. Warnock (in a runoff), should be a reality check,” he said. “We’ve achieved so much together (and) we have so much work yet to do. And I know, because we’ve done it, that we will prevail.”

Georgia Democrats overwhelmingly reelected party Chairwoman Nikema Williams, an Atlanta resident who also serves in Congress.

Williams touted the Democratic wins when asking party members to support her again.

“We are in the midst of one of the most exciting periods in our party’s history,” she said. “We quieted the naysayers by turning Georgia blue for the first time in 28 years in a presidential race, casting our 16 Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden.”

Democrats across the country have begun to look to Georgia as a blueprint for winning in conservative states, she said.

“We’re writing the playbook for states that were counted out to become battlegrounds because we know that no state is too red, no state is too blue — just like no county is too blue or too red to invest in here in Georgia,” she said.

Williams was expected to be reelected after making history four years ago when she became the first Black woman to lead the state party. She defeated Elizabeth Johnson, a Bulloch County resident who unsuccessfully ran for the 12th Congressional District in November, with a vote of 206-41.

The most competitive race was to be the party’s first vice chair. Outgoing state Rep. Matthew Wilson, a Brookhaven attorney who ran for insurance commissioner in the Democratic primary, came out on top in the four-way race. Wilson defeated James Woodall, the former president of the Georgia NAACP and a well-known civil rights activist, in a runoff.

Public relations executive Dontaye Carter and state Sen. Sheikh Rahman also were vying for the position.