ATLANTA — An Atlanta Democrat who briefly succeeded John Lewis in Congress dropped a surprise endorsement Friday, throwing his support behind Republicans Gov. Brian Kemp and state Sen. Burt Jones, who is running for lieutenant governor.
Former Rep. Kwanza Hall, who won a special election in 2020 to finish out the last bit of Lewis' term in the U.S. House, crossed party lines after being spurned by state Democratic leaders earlier this year.
Hall was the leading vote-getter in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. He later lost in the runoff to Charlie Bailey - who was endorsed by Kemp's opponent Stacey Abrams.
Hall said in a statement released by Kemp's campaign that, "(w)hile we don't agree on every issue, it's abundantly clear that Brian Kemp is a man of character, a strong leader and someone who Georgians can trust to put them and their interests first."
"Governor Kemp's door has always been open to those who have Georgia's best interests at heart, regardless of politics," Hall added.
In a statement, Kemp said Hall - who was on the Atlanta City Council from 2005-17 and previously mounted a run for mayor - "has ably served our capital city and state for many years."
Jones, in a statement, said he was "honored" to have Hall's support and credited his "service to our state and his shared commitment to lift up and improve the lives of every Georgia family."
Critics on social media painted Hall's time on the City Council as one focused on development that "sold out" the historically Black community of Old Fourth Ward. Others compared him to Vernon Jones, the former Democratic state representative who became one of former President Donald Trump's most visible backers.
Another Democrat, former Georgia Gov. Joe Frank Harris, also endorsed Kemp last week.
Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political science professor, told 11Alive that she thinks Hall's endorsements would not likely affect voters.
"While Kwanza Hall has been a fixture of Atlanta politics and state politics for a long period of time, I think Democratic voters are going to be looking for other cues.
"I think the larger question is would he have enough pull among those voters who are still on the fence," she added. "I'm not sure if this is a signal that will be received."