The Final Call Online Edition



WEB POSTED 08-28-2002



Exclusive Webcast from Atlanta, Ga:
"Endangered Democracy" by Minister Louis Farrakhan

Pro Israel lobby targets McKinney
FCN 08-20-2002


Black lawmakers must be free
FCN 08/06/2002
Rep. Cynthia McKinney Online
A new threat to Black politics?
Rep. McKinney loss in Georgia worrisome sign of attacks on outspoken lawmakers

by Eric Ture Muhammad
Staff Writer

ATLANTA ( mixed array of emotions filled the night air Aug. 21 in DeKalb County. Hundreds of supporters listened to the 12:45 a.m. concession speech of five-term incumbent Cynthia McKinney, who lost to former judge Denise Majette in her bid for a sixth term in Congress.

The defeat of Rep. McKinney represents the second loss this year by a senior Black incumbent at the behest of strong pro-Israeli groups, which put their financial war chests behind the challengers. Major crossover votes cast by conservative White Republicans for Ms. Majette and less-than-expected turnout in McKinney strongholds were essential for the margin of victory.

Some observers say the victory of the more “moderate” candidate over Ms. McKinney, coupled with the choice of Artur Davis in Alabama over five-term incumbent Rep. Earl Hilliard, fueled in large part by outside forces threatens all politicians. But with the few Black members in Congress, the loss of two outspoken lawmakers is especially significant for Black America.

There is also concern about repercussions the defeats may have far beyond the 4th District in Georgia and the state of Alabama.

“If Black voters perceive that elections in their districts are ultimately being decided by Whites and powerful outside sources with money, they may conclude their votes don’t matter and decide not to vote at all,” said David Bositis, senior political analyst for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington based research group that looks at issues affecting Black Americans.

Others are unhappy with what happened in the congressional elections.

“I definitely have some feelings about any outside group exerting this kind of influence in a race, and I’ve been receiving angry calls from Black voters all day, saying they should rally against Jewish candidates,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), CBC chairperson.

“To have non-African Americans from around the country putting millions into a race to unseat one of our leaders for expressing her right of free speech is definitely a problem,” said Rep. Johnson.

Outsiders push for lawmaker’s ouster

“It’s very clear now that this defeat was engineered by a very well publicized and internationally recognized assault by Zionist lobbyists here in America,” said Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, McKinney supporter and co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The former D.C. delegate was referring to a campaign by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and others against Ms. McKinney.

“It’s no secret. Newspapers for the last year have pointed out that they have targeted Cynthia McKinney and in coalition with conservative Republicans, who’ve unabashedly advised Republicans in this district not to vote in the Republican primary, but to switchover in the Democratic primary and defeat Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard,” said Mr. Fauntroy.

“It signals the breakup of the coalition of so-called progressive forces in the Democratic Party which should have included organized labor, the Jewish community and the African American community,” Mr. Fauntroy continued.

“We’ll just have to see what the result of that breakup (will be) that robbed us as African Americans of the seniority status that had been carefully built for 10 years by two members on two very important committees representing U.S. domestic and foreign interests from the Black perspective.

“To knock off the fourth ranking member to agriculture and the seventh and eighth ranking members of the international relations committee of the House of Representatives, you have delivered a serious blow to the interests of African Americans,” he said.

Mr. Fauntroy is planning a national emergency summit of Black leadership “to decide how we are going to define our interests and protect are interests domestic and foreign policy wise.”

The polls closed on the 4th District race with the candidates in an Aug. 20 dead heat. By 11 p.m., Ms. Majette had secured 58 percent of the vote to Ms. McKinney’s 42 percent. Some 18,000 to 20,000 registered Republicans crossed over and voted for Ms. Majette. The former judge garnered nearly 25 percent of the district’s Black vote.

In south DeKalb, Ms. McKinney’s base over the last 10 years, Black turnout was smaller than expected.

The 4th District is overwhelmingly Democratic and the winner of the primary is virtually assured of serving in Congress.

Factors in the election outcome

Many factors played into the lack of voter enthusiasm.

It did not help that some prominent Blacks, including NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, Democrat John Lewis of the neighboring Fifth District, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and civil rights leader, distanced themselves from Ms. McKinney.

Ms. McKinney had been able to depend on the support of prominent Black leaders in previous elections. All of the leaders who are former politicians are also Democrats.

“The Republicans wanted to beat me more than the Democrats wanted to keep me,” Ms. McKinney told the crowd gathered at her concession speech. “Tonight I have lost an election. But I maintained my spirit, my courage, my dignity and my commitment to truth, peace and the future,” she said. “Someone said that when one door closes another opens. Some doors have opened for me tonight. I know that God has a plan. And I know that God is not finished with me yet.”

According to campaign officials, some McKinney options include building a “third political force” in November with the congresswoman running as a write-in candidate. Legal questions about whether laws were violated in the push for a crossover vote by White Republicans against Ms. McKinney and Zionist lobbying are also under review, officials said.

Under Georgia law, voters may chose to vote for any candidate, regardless of the party affiliation. Republicans mounted a major effort for an anti-McKinney vote. It worked. Nearly one-third of registered Republicans in the district skipped their own party primary and voted against Ms. McKinney in the Democratic primary.

Billy McKinney, who has served in the state legislature for 30 years and is Rep. McKinney’s father, is also in a primary runoff for his seat as a state representative.

The McKinney-Majette race drew national and some international attention, based on comments the outspoken congresswoman has made on different occasions, and criticism of U.S. support for Israel.

Media reports also miscast comments she made questioning what the White House knew about potential attacks before Sept. 11.

The candidates debated several issues, particularly where it concerned affirmative action, funding brought into the district and their respective records of public service.

But the main exchanges concerned the financial support of AIPAC and Jewish donors for Ms. Majette and Arab and Muslim donors to Rep. McKinney’s campaign. Ms. McKinney was also accused of receiving money from Arab terrorist groups.

Ms. McKinney has been a strong advocate for a balanced Middle East policy, condemned racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims and erosion of civil liberties since Sept. 11.

Her district was also redrawn to include more White voters and dilute her Black base.

There was a controversy about an ad run by Ms. McKinney that included an endorsement by Andrew Young. According to Ms. McKinney, the civil rights leader said she could use a previous endorsement. He publicly announced a desire to stay neutral in the race.

Despite support from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and others, some supporters felt the CBC offered lackluster support for Rep. McKinney.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaking to reporters at a Chicago meeting of Black journalists, felt four forces converged in the election: Republicans crossed over against Ms. McKinney, while AIPAC puts its muscle behind challenger Ms. Majette as prominent Blacks backed away and the national Democratic Party did nothing to help an incumbent in a tight race. The issue is bigger than Black-Jewish differences, he said. But, the former presidential candidate added, it is worrisome that Ms. McKinney was targeted for taking a pro-Palestinian position, but another White lawmaker, who took a similar position, was not.

Who will control the 4th Congressional District?

In an interview with The Final Call, Ms. Majette said Black voters in DeKalb have nothing to fear regarding her allegiance to those outside the congressional district. She said the money from pro-Israeli groups would not influence her.

Ms. Majette vowed to work hard to keep her supporters, win over McKinney-backers and represent all of the interests of her district.

“It’s the first time that Black people have had a choice between two African American, Democratic, 47-year-old women with previous political experience,” said Mrs. Majette. “But I would agree that it’s not the same base that existed five or six years ago when she last had Democratic opposition.” Some analysts have said middle class voters identified more with Ms. Majette and her moderate politics.

“My allegiance is to the people of the 4th District. That is the bottom line. Those are the only people who can vote for me, send me to office or send me packing,” she said.

CBC Chair Johnson said if Ms. Majette wins the November election against Republican opponent Catherine Davis, who is also Black, the Black Caucus would welcome her. “If she comes here willing to work with us and is not skewed by the agenda of her supporters, of course, we will work with her,” said Rep. Johnson.

Activist Steve Cokely argued all CBC members who represent districts with a Black populace of 65 percent or more are now potential targets. Now that redistricting is over, Black congressmen need to secure their places on Capitol Hill and work more openly in the interests of Black America, he advised.

National leaders and the election

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton were among national leaders who went to Georgia to urge voters to participate in the 4th District election.

Min. Farrakhan spoke at three churches, held news conferences and talked about the need for Black politicians to be able to represent the interests of voters. He warned the undue influence of outside forces and lobbies erode democracy and can negate the will of voters.

“The overall higher turnout in the district certainly is indicative of the voter education that Min. Farrakhan conducted while he was here,” said Min. Ray Muhammad, southern regional representative of the Nation of Islam. He is based in Atlanta.

Among volunteers who came to help Ms. McKinney were Muslims and others who felt her strong voice deserved support.

“Obviously, the consciousness of Black people in America is growing. What this electoral process with Cynthia McKinney did for us is that it continues to give us a very important lesson in this dirty game of politics. It shows us as we watch White people and their example that they’ve set for us in this election; that they are not straddled down to any political party. They don’t have an undying allegiance to any political party, but they are more interested in what serves them most and what is in their best interests,” said Min. Ray Muhammad.

A third political force, not loyal to any political party, but loyal to Black interests is needed, he argued. White voters acted in their perceived best interest in the 4th District race, he said.

Min. Jamil Muhammad, also of Atlanta, said the volunteers are indicative of a growing political awareness in Black America, and among Muslims.

Muslims came from San Francisco to New York, from Chicago, Cleveland, Birmingham and south into Florida, he noted.

“It gave us the energy to go into the precincts and to provide on the ground level an increase of three-times the turnout in 16 of the worst voting precincts in the district. Turnout had been as low as 10 and 12 percent in those precincts. This time around it was 36.2 percent,” he said.

Looking to keep its position in Georgia politics AIPAC will hold a National Summit in Atlanta, Oct. 5-7, with leading members of government and media in honor of AIPAC’s “Capitol Club.”

A dinner for exclusive members of the 65,000-plus-member organization will be held at the Governor’s Mansion hosted by Gov. Roy E. Barnes. Speakers will include Mr. Barnes and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns.

Others who will address the gathering are Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, Israeli Transportation Minister Ephraim Sneh, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Senators John Edwards (D-N.C.), George Allen (R-Va.), Zell Miller (D-Ga.), as well as Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction and Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky. Ralph Reed, a Georgia Republican Party chairman and former executive director of the Christian Coalition, Donna Brazille, former Gore 2000 campaign manager, and Walter Isaacson, chairman and CEO of the CNN News Group will also address AIPAC.

(1) Rep. McKinney;  (2)  Supporters of Rep. Cynthia McKinney take to streets during final days of 4th Congressional District election;  (3) Rep. McKinney campaigns for reelection. (4)  Min. Farrakhan talks about importance of Black lawmakers working for Black interests. (5) Denise Majette
Photos by Eric Ture Muhammad
(6) Muslims in Chicago board bus to help out in Georgia primary election. Photo by Kenneth Muhammad

Recommend this article to a friend.
Your email: Recipient's email:



about FCN Online | contact us / letters | Credits | Final Call Customer Service


Copyright © 2011 FCN Publishing

" Pooling our resources and doing for self "

External web links are not necessarily  the views of
The Nation of Islam, Minister Louis Farrakhan or The Final Call