ATLANTA -- Underdog John Lewis bested Julian Bond, his old friend and civil rights comrade, in a runoff capping their sometimes bitter congressional primary campaign.
In a surprise victory, Lewis edged Bond out of the lead as late returns arrived Tuesday night from mostly white suburbs north of Atlanta, giving him a 51.8 percent tally. He promised to mend his friendship with Bond.
'I want to thank those people who had the raw courage to change their votes and vote for me,' said Lewis, a former city councilman who ran second to the nationally known Bond in the seven-candidate Aug. 12 Democratic primary.
With all the 5th District's precincts reporting, Lewis had 34,548 votes or 51.8 percent. Bond had 32,170 votes or 48.2 percent.
'This is a victory. It was a great victory. It was a victory for the people,' Lewis said at 11 p.m. EDT. 'I felt in my gut, from the day I announced, I would win.'
Lewis will face Republican journalist Portia Scott in November. She beat policeman David Yood in their runoff.
The 5th District seat was vacated by Rep. Wyche Fowler, an underdog Democrat who is campaigning against Republican Sen. Mack Mattingly. Bond had been considered the heir apparent for the seat.
'Both are men of quality,' Fowler, who held the seat since 1977, said of Bond and Lewis.
Bond, a state senator who will leave the Legislature in January after 20 years, hinted he is not through with politics, telling subdued supporters, 'Like Atlanta, we may someday rise from the ashes.
'I just called to congratulate John Lewis and to offer our support in the fall,' Bond said. 'This has been a long and difficult campaign for all of us. He got more voters than I -- that's the main reason he won.'
Bond, a professor's son, and Lewis, the son of a sharecropper, were the finalists in the primary, when Bond beat Lewis, a former city councilman, almost 3-2.
As the campaign's end neared, Bond and Lewis traded barbs, calling one another ineffective. Lewis urged Bond join him in taking a urine test to prove he is drug-free.
'We will heal those wounds,' Lewis said of Bond, whom he first met in 1960 when they helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. 'I am going to meet with him. We will shake hands.'
He promised to involve Bond in his campaign.
Asked why white suburbanites voted 80 percent for him, Lewis said, 'It's a question of trust. During the years I've been trying to build coalition politics.'
Bond said earlier in the campaign that Lewis got more white votes in the primary because he is associated with 'love, non-violence and Martin Luther King.' Bond said his well-known liberal views may threaten conservative whites.