LGBTQ candidates fall short in bid to succeed John Lewis

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The two LGBTQ candidates in a seven-person race to succeed Rep. John Lewis in Congress – at least for a few weeks – did not make the runoff.

Tuesday was the last day of voting in the special election, which will determine who fills the remaining weeks of Lewis’ term in Georgia’s 5th District. 

Former Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall and former Morehouse College President Robert Franklin will face each other in a runoff on Dec. 1 since no candidate received 50 percent of the vote. Lewis’ term ends in early January.

Hall placed first on Tuesday with 32.26 percent (10,004 votes), while Franklin’s 28.06 percent (8,700 votes) nabbed him second place, according to results from the Georgia Secretary of State.

Former state Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas placed third with 19.14 percent (5,935 votes).

The race included two LGBTQ candidates – former state Rep. Keisha Waites, a Democrat, and Libertarian Chase Oliver. Waites placed fourth with 12.06 percent (3,741 votes) while Oliver received 1.95 percent (601 votes) and placed sixth.

Besides the two LGBTQ candidates, the race featured candidates with long records of supporting LGBTQ issues – including Thomas and Hall. 

Hall represented a City Council district that included portions of Midtown and hired a gay chief of staff. When he ran for mayor in 2017, he championed several LGBTQ issues and took part in the Atlanta Pride parade.

As a mayoral candidate, he also supported lowering the penalties for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. In 2013 as a council member, Hall co-sponsored legislation to include “gender identity” among the list of protected classes in city ordinances.

In interviews with Podcast Q during the campaign, Waites and Oliver both discussed the importance of continuing Lewis’ push for LGBTQ equality. Oliver was running his first campaign for public office. In June, Waites came close to forcing a runoff with U.S. Rep. David Scott in the Democratic primary in Georgia’s 13th District.

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