The full effects of a recent racial discrimination verdict against former DeKalb County CEO and fourth district congressional candidate Vernon Jones probably will not be clear until after the election.
But, as a Democratic candidate with a checkered political past in a majority Democratic district, Jones, at best, is a long shot.
Now, after a jury found him guilty of racial discrimination, he’s a really, really long shot, election observers said.
“I think his chances were pretty minimal to begin with, and I think the chances are even less with that,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University. “If someone is going to knock off (Rep.) Hank Johnson… I don’t see Vernon doing it.”
Jones announced his candidacy for the House seat on Jan. 15, claiming a focus on getting county residents employed while expressing a strong distaste for last year’s Wall Street bailouts. He also sought to convince local media he was committed to repairing relationships with residents, politicians and reporters he notoriously bristled as CEO.
He announced he planned to oust Johnson, a Black incumbent elected in 2006, after winning meager support against Jim Martin in his 2008 bid for the Senate. Jones lost in a primary run-off, taking only two-thirds of DeKalb County’s Black vote, showing he had lost the support of many Black voters.
Earlier this month, a federal jury wrapped up six years of litigation, finding that the county, Jones and two other former employees intentionally discriminated against two former White Parks and Recreation Department managers based on their race. The jury awarded $185,000 in damages.
Jones hailed the verdict as proof of his success because the awarded damages were so small, but the county reportedly spent millions of taxpayers’ money in legal fees defending the suit.
“Once again, I have been tried by fire, and I have prevailed,” Jones told reporters after the trial. “It lets me know God is still in control.”
But the fourth congressional district has a history of electing controversial members, said Randy Lewis, a public relations executive who helps run Georgia Political & Policy Digest. Johnson ousted former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who once claimed former President George W. Bush knew beforehand about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“The district just has an appalling history of congressional representation,” Lewis said. “I can’t think of a single thing with that district that doesn’t make me want to just