Johnson Lays Claim to Lewis’ Seat in 2014?

UPDATE:  The AJC confirmed that Judge Johnson has resigned effective June 3, 2011
Rumors are swirling that Fulton County Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson is resigning from his post to run against Congressman John Lewis in the 2012 Democratic Primary for Lewis’ 5th District Congressional seat.  Lewis, who has already announced his intent to seek re-election, has served in Congress since 1987.  Johnson may be a virtual unknown to most people, but age, family and collegiate pedigree could make this the most serious challenge Lewis has faced since he was elected in 1986.
As a veteran of the civil rights movement, Lewis’ natural base is African American voters. And while over 60% of the voters in the 5th District are of color, Lewis’ real trump card is the Intown liberal white voters in neighborhoods such as Midtown, Morningside, and Ansley Park.  Lewis is perennially ranked as one of the most liberal members of Congress, which has not gone unnoticed by his Intown constituents.  Lewis regularly garners 85-90% of the vote Intown.  In order for a candidate to seriously challenge Lewis, the opponent must chip away at Lewis’s huge advantage in the white community and win a majority of the African American votes by convincing them that Lewis’s time to make a difference has come and gone.  Enter Judge Michael Johnson.

Political insiders have told Blogging While Blue, that Johnson is making the rounds trying to measure support for his run. The biggest obstacle to challenging an incumbent congressman is name recognition and money.  Johnson, a judge and graduate of Morehouse College, should be able to leverage his contacts to raise a substantial amount of money.  In addition, Johnson is married to the daughter of Hamilton Holmes, Alison Holmes Johnson.  Hamilton Homes integrated the University of Georgia in 1961 and was a pillar in Black Atlanta.  What’s even more significant is that Alison grew up in Southwest Atlanta, which is seen as one of the political power centers of African American politics in Atlanta, and Johnson should be able to tap into her network of friends and associates.

Johnson has the makings of a strong candidate, but faces an uphill battle in a race against Lewis.  Johnson may be thinking that if he puts Lewis through a tough race in 2012, Lewis may not want to campaign again in 2014, which will allow Johnson to run for the open seat at that time.  However, one trusted political advisor reminded Blogging While Blue that the 5th Congressional District has been represented by a former city of Atlanta at-large council member for the last thirty five years.  Before Lewis, Atlanta City Council President Wyche Fowler, Jr. held the seat for ten years.  What’s significant about this fact is that current at-large council members already have higher name recognition than your average local elected official, and they have the platform to raise money and to garner community support through their current relationships on the council.  All of the current Atlanta at-large council members, Aaron Watson, Lamar Willis, Michael Bond, and Council President Ceasar Mitchell, seem to have higher political ambitions, which may lead to an interesting campaign, when Lewis retires.


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