Late last week, Georgia State Representative “Able” Mabel Thomas announced her intention to challenge Congressman John Lewis for re-election.
She becomes the second serious challenger to Lewis, the first being Markel Hutchins, a community activist and minister. This marks the second time Thomas has challenged Lewis. Representative Thomas lost badly in 1992 and won less than 25% of the vote. Able Mabel is a serious politician having served in both the Georgia House of Representatives and the Atlanta City Council. She is also a progressive legislator having twice passed legislation to increase Georgia’s homestead exemption to protect low income and elderly people from losing their homes.
She, like Hutchins, frames the contest in generational terms, “I believe that, at the end of the day, that my opponent is not only beatable, but my opponent should — right now — just get out of the race and let a new generation come forth.”
Hutchins subsequently released a statement as well and obviously got the memo that this is a change election. “While my campaign will continue to respect the contributions of the elder politicians that have come before us, this congressional race is about sending a true change agent to Washington that has the energy to work, audacity to hope, courage to lead and propensity for diplomacy needed to effectively represent and advocate for all of the people of Georgia in the United States Congress.”
This follows on the heels of an announcement last month that Georgia State Senator Regina Thomas, (no relation) will challenge Congressman John Barrow for re-election in the July Democratic Primary. Barrow, a conservative Democrat, barely made it last election and has raised an impressive war chest to fend off stiff Republican competition.
Senator Regina Thomas, a Savannah Democrat, has a weakness for colorful and elaborate hats and apparently hers is on too tight. She cannot possibly win this seat in a general election despite having the demographic advantage of a 40% African American population in the district. She’s a weak fundraiser but a solid progressive. Unfortunately, that ain’t gonna be enough to overcome white resistance to liberal black representation in rural South Georgia.
Listening to Rev. Markel Hutchins preach is like listening to Martin Luther King, Jr for the first time-it gives you chills. The thirty year-old preacher has an extensive record of activism and community organizing on behalf of the voiceless and powerless.
Working with the progressive labor movement against Wal-Mart and for health care and living wages, Hutchins cuts a charismatic figure fighting for people in stark contrast to Congressman John Lewis who seems to have lost his nerve.
Lewis, a distinguished warrior during the civil rights movement, was beaten countless times by the racist stormtroopers of the confederacy. He faced down dogs and hoses only to punk out as a member of congress and to remain silent in the face of Bill Clinton’s unconscionable attempts to racially polarize the electorate for the benefit of his wife.
Only after Hutchins announcement of his candidacy did John Lewis find a pair and leave Hillary’s plantation.
What impresses the most is the level of his game, he brings it with a freshness and a skill that belies his age. His principled advocacy on behalf of the family of Kathryn Johnston, 92, who was shot to death by Atlanta Police in a botched drug raid proves to me that he is ready to lead because he is already doing it.
The Congressional Black Caucus has failed on so many levels that I cannot bear to go into an explanation. I am enthusiastic and wholeheartedly in favor of a challenge to the ossified and complacent membership of the Congressional Black Caucus. In my humble opinion, Lewis is toast. Don’t believe me, see for yourself.
As soon as I am able, I am going to send this cat a contribution. He inspires and provides the right dose of substance and charisma. While Lewis is a down the line progressive, his light does not shine brightly enough to shame his CBC colleagues into following his example or be replaced, I have every confidence that this brotha can provide the right example.
Hat Tip: By Jim Galloway, Atlanta Journal Constitution
For the first time in nearly a decade, U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta on Wednesday picked up opposition to his re-election to Congress.
Markel Hutchins, an Atlanta minister who took up the cause of a 92-year-old woman killed in a botched police raid, announced he would challenge the 11-term congressman and civil rights icon in the Democratic primary.
“Now is the time for us to move beyond the nostalgia of the Civil Rights era,” said Hutchins. The minister said he met privately with Lewis on Tuesday.
Hutchins, 30, said Lewis’ October endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race, while the 5th District largely supported Barack Obama, was a factor in his decision to challenge Lewis. “That presented some problems for many of us,” Hutchins said.
But Hutchins also said Lewis had not brought home enough federal dollars to help the city of Atlanta cope with its crumbling infrastructure. On Wednesday, to illustrate the point, he made his announcement on a Martin Luther King Jr. Drive bridge that he said was in desperate need of repair.
Lewis, who will turn 68 today, declared he was ready for the fight.
“Leadership cannot be given. It has to be earned with respect and integrity,” the congressman said in a statement issued by his campaign. “There is no question that something is happening in America. There is a movement, a movement I helped give birth to, that creates the conditions and the climate for change. I have always been a fighter.”