Henry C. "Hank" Johnson Jr. (born October 2, 1954) is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 4th congressional district, serving since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district is based in DeKalb County, a largely suburban county east of Atlanta. It also includes portions of Gwinnett and Rockdale counties.
Life, education and career
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.
Johnson graduated from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in 1976, was a member of Omega Psi Phi Kappa Alpha Alpha Chapter, Decatur, Georgia, 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.
U.S. House of Representatives
Johnson is—along with Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, also elected to Congress in 2006—one of the first two Buddhists to serve in the United States Congress.
In 2008, Johnson was elected to serve as regional whip for Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.
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.
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."
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. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnson's resolution was "interesting in that it goes beyond broad directives and proposes something very specific."
casualties, and this must stop." According to the
On March 23, 2007, Johnson voted to pass H.R. 1591, "The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act." 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.
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.
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.
During a House Armed Services Committee hearing in March 2010 concerning the U.S. military installation on the island of Guam, Johnson said to Admiral Robert F. Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize," to which Admiral Willard replied, "We don't anticipate that." Johnson later claimed that it was a metaphor. The video of Johnson's comments became an internet sensation in the week prior to the 2010 elections, which he went on to win.
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%.
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%).
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.
On October 6, 2006, Congressional Quarterly's "On Their Way," which features promising candidates soon-to-arrive in Washington, featured Johnson.
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." 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. Johnson was the first Congressional candidate invited to blog for The Hill's Congress Blog, typically reserved for Members of Congress. "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."
Johnson won reelection with 99.9% of the vote, challenged only by Independent write-in candidates Loren Christopher Collins, Faye Coffield and Jacob Perasso.
Johnson was the first Democratic congressman in Georgia to publicly endorse Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary on July 30, 2007.
Johnson's wife, Mereda Davis Johnson, is an attorney; they have two children.
In December 2009, Johnson revealed that he had been battling Hepatitis C for over a decade, which resulted in slow speech and a tendency to regularly get "lost in thought in the middle of a discussion". Johnson said that he learned he had the disease in 1998 but does not know how he contracted it. The disease has damaged his liver and led to thyroid problems. He was treated with a combination of ribavirin and interferon at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In February 2010, Johnson finished an experimental treatment for Hepatitis C, resulting in weight gain and increased energy.
October 18th, 2011