McKinney Bounced in Primary

By JTA and Forward Staff

Published August 11, 2006, issue of August 11, 2006.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a Georgia Democrat who has drawn stiff criticism and opposition from pro-Israel activists, lost her primary bid for re-election.

McKinney was defeated Tuesday in a runoff against Hank Johnson, who won 59% of the vote.

The first black woman from Georgia to win a seat in Congress, McKinney has stirred anger among her constituents over a series of controversies, including an altercation earlier this year with a Capitol police officer.

She was first elected to Congress in the safe Democratic district in 1992, but attracted pro-Israel opposition in 2002 after, among other moves, she solicited assistance from a Saudi prince who suggested that American support for Israel created the atmosphere for the September 11, 2001, attacks.

If McKinney loses, it won’t be the first time that pro-Israel activists have contributed to her defeat: In 2002, after a decade in office, she lost the Democratic primary to former judge Denise Majette, who received significant support from Jewish donors nationwide. In the wake of the election, McKinney’s father, longtime Georgia State Rep. Billy McKinney, blamed his daughter’s defeat on the “J-E-W-S” who “bought everybody.”

McKinney reclaimed her seat in 2004 when Majette launched an unsuccessful bid for the Senate.

This time around, pro-Israel activists took notice of the race only after Johnson had forced the runoff and was already favored to win. In the wake of McKinney’s second primary loss in three elections, some observers suggested that she has exhausted her chances for public office.

“It’s the end of her political career,” University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s done some real damage to the notion that she’s got this loyal electorate that she can snap her fingers and mobilize.”



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