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Cynthia McKinney Ousted; Defeated Lieberman Says He’ll Run as Independent

Well her run is now over.  She claims voting irregularities contributed to her loss. What do you believe?

Date: Wednesday, August 09, 2006
By: Monica Lewis, BlackAmericaWeb.com

The “Anyone But Cynthia Movement” appears to have come out on top, but embattled Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Georgia’s first black female in Congress, isn’t going down without a fight.

Just three hours after the polls closed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff, McKinney’s challenger Henry “Hank” Johnson declared victory at his campaign headquarters in Decatur. With 89 percent of the precincts reporting before midnight, Johnson had 59 percent of the votes compared to McKinney’s 41 percent.

But McKinney, who’s been in Congress for more than 10 years, questioned the validity of votes, suggesting through postings on her campaign website that some voting irregularities had taken place throughout the day. At some polling places, McKinney supporters said her name did not appear on ballots while at other sites, eager voters were told that the polls were closed to due to non-working air conditioners. One posting to the site claimed McKinney supporters were harassed by police from an Atlanta suburb.

Such allegations were not confirmed by law enforcement agents or Georgia’s secretary of state. Johnson’s spokesperson Deb McGhee Speights said they accusations are groundless and doesn’t expect them to affect the outcome of the race.

“We didn’t have any problems (with voting),” McGhee Speight told BlackAmericaWeb.com, struggling to be heard over the din of Johnson supporters cheering during his acceptance speech. When asked whether the campaign expected McKinney to challenge the election outcome, McGhee Speights simply said, “I have no idea what she will do.”

Calls to McKinney’s campaign headquarters were not immediately returned at press time, but McKinney supporters say they would not be surprised if something did happen to swing votes Johnson’s way. 

Tyrone Brooks, a longtime member of the Georgia House of Representatives, spent much of the day stumping for votes with McKinney. Despite reports by McKinney supporters that some irregularities may have occurred, McKinney remained upbeat, Brooks said, telling BlackAmericaWeb.com that he’ll feel no pride in Johnson’s moving on to the Democratic nomination at McKinney’s expense.

“Even during the days of slavery, the slave master always had his puppet,” Brooks said, accusing Johnson of willingly receiving support from GOP loyalists intent on unseating McKinney.

“George Bush and his Republican machine are working diligently to defeat Cynthia just as they did four years ago,” Brooks said, referring to McKinney’s loss to Denise Majette. “That’s the just the trials and tribulations of being a true black leader. Anytime you speak up for the black community, you’re going to have your enemies. You can expect opposition to come.”

Brooks said he didn’t know of any black voters supporting Johnson, but Desiree Pedescleaux, a political scientist at Spelman College, said many voters or any ethnic group may have grown tired of McKinney’s perceived controversial ways, from her often outspoken nature to the highly-publicized altercation she had with a member of U.S. Capitol police force earlier this year.

“She did look out for her constituents, and she tried to do what’s right and speak the truth,” Pedescleaux told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “She’ll be remembered as a good legislator, a good congressperson. But there’s always going to be those people who wished she had been just a little more disciplined.

“There’s a group that loves her bluntness, her forthrightness, and they will support her no matter what,” Pedescleaux said, adding that the incident at the U.S. Capitol may have been the last straw for some of McKinney’s constituents. “But there’s this other crown that has been embarrassed by her. They wish she could be a little bit more statesman-like.”

Pedescleaux added that even the star power of former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, who publicly endorsed McKinney last week, may not have been enough to sway voters.

“While Andrew Young is supporting her, I think it wasn’t enough this time,” Pedescleaux said. “People are just tired of her. Hank has a good reputation in the community, and I think people were willing to take a chance on him.”

Ronald Walters, a University of Maryland at College Park political scientist, said McKinney’s district has had a history of voting machine malfunctions.  But reports he saw of such reported problems did not appear to be so widespread that the outcome of the election hinged on them.

“From what I understand, the malfunctions didn’t last long enough to matter, people were not so discouraged that they left the polls, so I’m not taking this at face value,” Walters told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

But on her site, http://www.cynthiaforcongress.com, McKinney appears to submit personal testimonies as to the voting improprieties she saw firsthand and learned of from supporters out in the field.

“At 11:00, a voter said she voted for me, but after the vote the machine displayed a vote for Hank Johnson.  A Team McKinney attorney followed up with the voter and will issue a complete report,” McKinney posted on her site.  “At least two voting precincts not in the District, on July 18th voters report that my and my opponents’ names were on the ballot. Today, these names do not appear on their ballots. On July 18th, how many votes were cast and counted from outside the Fourth District? Only the graveyard of bits and bytes knows for sure.”

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Secretary of State’s spokesperson Kara Sinkule said the office kept an eye on the elections, with 15 roving monitors on the ground in the 4th District.

Sinkule noted that the complaints were only coming from the McKinney campaign.

“We are not having voters saying we are having equipment malfunctions,” Sinkule told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Despite his primary victory, Pedescleaux said voters will be surprised if Johnson wins the congressional seat and makes a major impact.

“I think (voters) are saying he can’t do any worse,” Pedescleaux told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “If he goes there and becomes a star, that’ll be great for some people, but right now, I don’t think people are expecting much from him if he gets in.”

In another major race Tuesday, three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman fell to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont in Connecticut’s Democratic primary Tuesday, the first major election-year test of sentiment over the conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq.

“Tonight we voted for big change,” a jubilant Lamont told supporters. Unbowed, Lieberman vowed to fight on, announcing plans to run as an independent this fall.

“Of course I am disappointed by the results, but I am not discouraged,” Lieberman said. “For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand.”

Lamont won with 52 percent of the vote, or 146,061, to 48 percent for Lieberman, with 136,042, with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Turnout was projected at twice the norm for a primary.

Lieberman’s loss made him only the fourth incumbent senator to lose a primary since 1980, and came just six years after he was the Democrats’ choice for vice president.

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Associated Press contributed to this story


Posted by loni on 08/09 at 01:07 PM in Blogging

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