Cynthia McKinney was the gutsy incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative from Georgia's House District 4. She lost the party nomination in an August 8, 2006 Democratic Party Primary Election Run-off to challenger Hank Johnson, a former DeKalb County commissioner, by a vote 58% (Johnson) to 41% (McKinney). Her defeat has been attributed to negative press coverage of statements she made to the effect that the second Bush administration had prior knowledge of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and an incident at the entrance of a House office building during whcih she struck at a Capitol Police officer.
McKinney's political career began when her father, controversal former state rep Billy McKinney (on the eve of the primary, a TV reporter asked Billy who was responsible for his daughter's upcoming defeat. He replied: "J-E-W-S", and was defeated by John Noel in his own primary election soon after), put her name on a ballot, without her knowledge, due to a feud with a colleague. She won 20% of the vote due to name recognition in alone. In 1988, she seriously ran, and won, making the McKinneys the first father-daughter team in any state legislature. McKinney used to rail against the Gulf War in the belly of the statehouse. In 1992, McKinney became the first black woman elected to Congress from Georgia. From 1992 to 2002, she served District 4 in Congress; she was targeted for defeat in the 2002 primary due to furor over her criticisms of Bush's handling of 9/11, and outrage over whether or not she had made anti-Semetic and anti-Israel remarks. She was defeated in an open primary by Denise Majette; to this day she and her supporters claim that countless Republicans voted in the election solely to remove her from Congress.
Cynthia tends to represent the national Democratic Party's conflicts on Israel, on race, on how outspoken a Democrat is or is not supposed to be. Many of her criticisms of George W. Bush were perceptive and unfairly maligned. Yet she also had a tendency to bring other problems on herself with comments such as one on her former campaign website: "Al Gore's Negro tolerance level has never been too high. I've never seen him around more than one at a time."
McKinney ran a low-key campaign in 2004, emphasizing her bipartisan efforts in Congress, refusing to attack Majette or her current Democratic rivals, and listening to the needs of those in her district. She also appeared at screenings of Michael Moore's successful documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11 (in which she was seen decrying the disenfranchisement of Florida's black voters during the 2000 elections), along with the mother of the first Georgian soldier killed in the Iraq war.
Due to a contentious Republican Senate primary, Republican voters chose not to cross over for the 4th district contest. Jewish donors were also unsure of who to donate to, and hoped to wait for a runoff. In a 6-way primary, heavily outspent by former state senator Liane Levetan and former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard, McKinney was definitely expected to enter a runoff. Instead, political observers were stunned when she managed to obtain 51% of the vote. The far-right and far-left were whipped into a frenzy. She faces Republican Catherine Davis in November, but that race is likely a foregone conclusion. One of Bush's strongest and harshest critics was soon heading back to Congress. Everything and nothing had changed on Tuesday, July 20, 2004, as Cynthia McKinney proclaimed herself a part of "one of the greatest political comebacks in history."
- n.a. "McKinney Loses Ga. Runoff; In Mich., Moderate Falls in GOP Primary." Baltimore Sun. August 9, 2006. Baltimore Sun.com