Nikema Williams launches bid for Congress with key endorsement

Georgia state Sen. Nikema Williams holds her son Carter Small after Williams at the state convention. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Georgia state Sen. Nikema Williams holds her son Carter Small after Williams at the state convention. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

State Sen. Nikema Williams kicked off her bid to succeed the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis with a push for new voting legislation in the civil rights hero’s name and the endorsement of an influential abortion rights group.

NARAL Pro-Choice America threw its support behind Williams on Friday, with state director Laura Simmons saying there’s “no better candidate to honor and continue Congressman Lewis’ legacy.”

Williams, the chairwoman of the state Democratic party, was selected by party insiders on July 20 to replace Lewis on the November ballot. The vote was held just days after Lewis’ death because of a quirk in Georgia law that required a speedy replacement.

ExploreDemocrats tap Nikema Williams to replace Lewis on ballot

Though she faces Republican Angela Stanton-King in November, Williams is considered a shoo-in to win a full two-year term to represent the heavily-Democratic Atlanta-based district.

And she opted against running in the Sept. 29 special election to fill Lewis’ unexpired term, a race that drew seven candidates.

ExploreNikema Williams follows Lewis' path, if not trying to fill his shoes

Her real electoral challenge will likely arrive in 2022, when she could face Democratic rivals who want to test her in an open race. Until then, she’ll aim to consolidate her party’s support, build a fundraising advantage and establish herself in Congress.

She picked the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act to kick off her campaign, and called for an update to the Voting Rights Act that restores protections stripped away by the Supreme Court and dismantle other barriers to the ballot box.

“Georgia Democrats know, like Mr. Lewis taught us, that our vote is the most powerful tool we have in a democratic society,” she said.

ExploreConfusing Georgia law at heart of debate over Lewis' successor

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