August 8, 2006

Cynthia McKinney loses Georgia run-off race

By Matthew Bigg

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Democrat Cynthia McKinney, who was
Georgia's first African American congresswoman, lost her
primary run-off race on Tuesday, paying a price for strident
rhetoric and a failure to galvanize supporters.

With 90 percent of precincts counted in Georgia's 4th
Congressional District, her opponent Hank Johnson had 59
percent of the vote, according to Atlanta station WSB-TV's Web

McKinney had been expected to cruise through the July
primary but emerged only 3 percent ahead of Johnson, a lawyer
and former county commissioner, and was forced into a run-off
for a seat she has held since 2004.

In June, McKinney was forced to apologize on the floor of
the House over an incident at the Capitol that drew rebukes
from lawmakers of both parties, in which she poked a police
officer who stopped her at a checkpoint after failing to
recognize her.

The Justice Department declined to charge her over the
incident, but Republicans seized on the opportunity to paint
her as a loose cannon.

Senior Democratic leaders had declined to endorse her
re-election campaign, viewing her as a polarizing figure who
could hurt party chances at elections in November, commentator
Earl Hutchinson told Reuters.

McKinney's campaign slogan was "Backbone in politics" and
she accused her opponent in a televised debate last week of
taking money from Republicans eager to unseat her because of
her principled stand on issues, not least her opposition to the
war in Iraq, which she says is illegal.

Johnson has called her a divisive figure.

McKinney, 51, was first elected to Congress in 1992 but
lost her seat in a primary race in 2002 in part because of her
suggestion that President Bush may have had prior knowledge of
the September 11 attacks. She was reelected two years later.