Congressman John Lewis, who had the temerity not to succumb to Jesse Jackson's arm-twisting, is now facing a primary challenge for his seat in Congress from a 30-year-old Markel Hutchins, who says "the civil rights icon who has represented the city in Congress for two decades is un-hip," the Atlanta Journal Constitution has reported.
As evidence of a gap between Lewis and young, civic-minded activists, Hutchins points to Lewis’ decision to back Sen. Hillary Clinton instead of Sen. Barack Obama in the presidential race even though Obama is the first truly viable African American to run for president and the overwhelming favorite in Georgia’s Democratic primary this month.
Hutchins, 30, is pitching his campaign as a generational changing of the guard and himself as the youthful face of the Hip-Hop generation, with which, he said, Lewis is out of touch. The race, he said, is a choice between "the generation that started the movement to the one poised to continue it."
I wonder if Obama will laud the achievements of Lewis once the nomination is wrapped up, and support Lewis in defending his Congressional seat?
Lewis, who spent much of his youth at the forefront of civil rights movement, enduring police beatings and threats, was recently quoted by the New York Times as saying that he was prepared to shift his support to Obama. But Lewis’ people have disavowed the report.
Lewis is 67. If that’s too old to be hip, it’s only going to get worse. On Thursday, he turns 68.
UPDATE: Just minutes before Hutchins was to announce his candidacy, we got a message from Lewis’ campaign reassuring us that Lewis isn’t too old to slug it would with Hutchins.
"Leadership cannot be given. It has to be earned with respect and integrity," Lewis said in a statement that had a sit-down-junior tone to it.
You go John Lewis. He's hip enough for me.