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Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr.

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 4th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 2007
Preceded by Cynthia McKinney

Born October 2, 1954 (1954-10-02) (age 55)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mereda Davis Johnson
Residence Lithonia, Georgia
Alma mater Clark Atlanta University, Texas Southern University
Occupation attorney
Religion Buddhist
(Soka Gakkai)

Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr. (born October 2, 1954) is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Georgia's Fourth Congressional District. The district is based in DeKalb County, a largely suburban county east of Atlanta. It also includes portions of Gwinnett and Rockdale counties.[1] A Democrat, Johnson was elected to the U.S. House in the November 7, 2006 general election. Johnson is—along with Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, also elected to Congress in 2006—one of the first two Buddhists in American history to serve in the United States Congress.[2] Johnson is a member of the House Democratic leadership, elected by the Democratic caucus to serve as whip for Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.[3] Johnson serves on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees.


Personal life

Johnson graduated from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in 1976, was a member of Omega Psi Phi Kappa Alpha Alpha Chapter, Decatur, GA, and Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston in 1979; he practiced law in Decatur, Georgia for more than 25 years.

He was elected to the DeKalb County Commission in 2000 and served two terms. Prior to his service on the Commission, he worked as an Associate Magistrate Judge for ten years.[4]

Johnson's wife, Mereda Davis Johnson, is also an attorney; they have two children.

Johnson grew up in Washington, D.C. His father worked for the Bureau of Prisons and was the director of classifications and paroles, up to that time, the highest ranking African American in the bureau.[5]

Johnson is a practicing Buddhist and is a member of Soka Gakkai International.

2006 election to the U.S. House of Representatives

Johnson forced former Representative Cynthia McKinney into a runoff by holding McKinney under 50% in the July 18, 2006 Democratic primary: McKinney got 47.1% of the vote; Johnson 44.4%, and a third candidate got 8.5%.[6]. McKinney had been favored to win, so her narrow margin surprised observers. Johnson picked up support because, after the primary, he seemed to have a real possibility of winning.

In the runoff of August 8, 2006, although there were about 8,000 more voters, McKinney got about the same number of votes as in the July primary. Johnson won with 41,178 votes (59%); McKinney got 28,832 (41%).[7]

The 4th is one of the most Democratic districts in the South, and among Georgia districts, only the neighboring 5th is considered more Democratic. It is so heavily Democratic that Johnson's primary victory all but assured him of becoming the district's third congressman (it was created as the 11th in 1993 and renumbered the 4th in 1997). In November, he trounced the Republican candidate, Catherine Davis, with 76% of the vote — one of the largest percentages for a Democrat in a contested election, and the largest in the history of the district. He was unopposed for reelection in 2008; given the 4th's heavy Democratic tilt it is not likely he will face serious Republican opposition in the foreseeable future.

On October 6, 2006, Congressional Quarterly's "On Their Way," which features promising candidates soon-to-arrive in Washington, featured Johnson.[8]

Online presence

Johnson's aggressive use of the internet to court supporters and attract national attention to the 2006 race in which he challenged and defeated Cynthia McKinney was noted by national political media. The National Journal wrote that of all Congressional candidates nationwide in 2006, "Johnson had the most unique blog strategy by far."[9]

The National Journal ranked Johnson's use of the internet to defeat McKinney -- and the broader trend of challengers using the blogosphere to challenge entrenched incumbents -- as the third most significant blog-related story of 2006.[10]

Johnson was the first Congressional candidate invited to blog for The Hill's Congress Blog, typically reserved for Members of Congress.[11] "I'm tremendously excited about the opportunity to use this unique medium to strengthen democracy by increasing open interaction between constituents and candidates," Johnson wrote. "I hope to provide you with an inside view of this hotly-contested, high stakes runoff."

Congressional career

On January 25, 2007, Johnson responded to U.S. President George W. Bush's State of the Union address by criticizing the war in Iraq, saying "This war has proven to be one of the gravest missteps in the recent history of our country. It is time for President Bush to face the music and respond to the urgent demands of a frustrated country."[12]

On February 8, 2007, Johnson introduced his first bill: a resolution requesting that the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates take U.S. troops off of street patrol duty in Iraq. "There is no military solution for the civil war in Iraq," said Johnson, "It is time for Iraqi troops, who have been trained, to assume responsibility for patrolling their own streets. Clearly, deploying our troops this way has only escalated the number of U.S. casualties, and this must stop."[13] According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnson's resolution was "interesting in that it goes beyond broad directives and proposes something very specific."[14]

On March 23, 2007, Johnson voted to pass H.R. 1591, "The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act."[15] This bill provided $124 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and required that President George W. Bush withdraw American forces from Iraq by mid-2008. Johnson attracted attention by blogging about his decision to vote for the bill.[16]

On May 24, 2007, Johnson voted to cut funding for the Iraq War that did not include binding requirements of the Iraqi government and made no provisions for the redeployment of American armed forces from Iraq.[17].

Johnson voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout bill in November, 2008.

He voted in favor of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the stimulus package supported by Democrats in Congress and President Barack Obama.

In 2007, Johnson's H.Con.Res.80, a resolution calling for peaceful resolution to the Ugandan civil war between the Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army, unanimously passed the House and Senate. Johnson's first successful piece of legislation, it was jointly introduced in the Senate by Democratic Senator Russ Feingold and Republican Senator Sam Brownback.

In 2009, Johnson demanded censure of Rep. Joe Wilson's "you lie" remark, arguing that the comment had an unseen racial undertone and that, if Wilson was not formally rebuked, "We will have people with white hoods running through the countryside again." [18]


Committee assignments

2008 presidential election: Endorsement of Barack Obama

Johnson was the first Democratic congressman in Georgia to endorse publicly Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary on July 30, 2007.[19]

House leadership

On November 18, 2008, Johnson was elected Regional Whip for the Eighth Region (GA, FL, MS, AL, U.S. Virgin Islands) by the Democratic Caucus.[20]


  1. ^ Williams, Dave (2006-08-04). "Low-key primary turns into high-profile runoff" (in English). Gwinnett (Georgia) Daily Post. Retrieved 2006-08-07.  
  2. ^ Jonathan Tilove. "New Congress brings with it religious firsts". Newhouse News Service.   Retrieved Dec. 8, 2006
  3. ^
  4. ^ Land, Greg (2006-07-31). "Johnson latest DeKalb lawyer in national eye, Criminal defense lawyer and ex-magistrate judge faces incumbent McKinney in runoff". Daily Report. Retrieved 2006-08-04.  
  5. ^ Jacobs, Sonji; Mae Gentry & Ernie Suggs (2006-07-20). "Hank Johnson aims to energize McKinney's foes". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 2006-08-04.  
  6. ^ "Georgia Election Results: Official Results of the July 18, 2006 Primary Election". Georgia Secretary of State. 2006-07-16. Retrieved 2006-08-08.  
  7. ^ "Democrat U.S. House District 4". WSBTV Action News 2 Atlanta. 2006-08-08. Retrieved 2006-08-08.  
  8. ^ "On Their Way: Johnson Hopes to be More Effective Than McKinney". Congressional Quarterly. 2006-10-06. Retrieved 2006-10-20.  
  9. ^ Glover, Danny (2006-08-15). "The Online Curse Of Incumbency". National Journal. Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  10. ^ Glover, Danny (2007-01-12). "Blog Power: The Top 10 Blog Stories Of 2006". National Journal. Retrieved 2008-04-28.  
  11. ^ Johnson, Hank (2006-07-24). "The beauty of politics in a democracy". The Hill's Congress Blog (The National Journal). Retrieved 2006-08-17.  
  12. ^ "Bush speech gets mixed reaction from Georgia lawmakers". Associated Press. 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2007-01-24.  
  13. ^ "Johnson wants Iraqis to start street patrol". Gwinnett Daily Post. 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2007-02-11.  
  14. ^ "An Iraq resolution without the wiggle room". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-02-11.  
  15. ^ "110th Congress, 1st session, House vote 186". Washington Post. 2007-03-23. Retrieved 2007-03-23.  
  16. ^ "Exit Strategy: Why I Supported the Iraq Accountability Act". Hank Johnson. 2007-03-23.,ga04_johnson,blog,999,All,Item%20not%20found,ID=070323_0347,TEMPLATE=postingdetail.shtml. Retrieved 2007-03-23.  
  17. ^ "Bush praises Democrats' compromise on Iraq funding". International Herald Tribune. 2007-05-24. Retrieved 2007-05-30.  
  18. ^
  19. ^ Galloway, Jim (July 30, 2007). "Hank Johnson pitches his tent with the Obama camp". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 29, 2009.  
  20. ^

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Cynthia McKinney
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by


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