WASHINGTON -- Cynthia McKinney appears ready to try for a political comeback.
Records at the Federal Election Commission show that the former Democratic congresswoman from DeKalb County has begun filing paperwork that would allow her to run in her old 4th District seat, which she lost to fellow Democrat Denise Majette in the August 2002 primary. Majette went on to win the general election.
McKinney has filed a statement of candidacy for the 2004 House primary, and between Jan. 1 and March 31 reported more than $18,000 in operating expenses. She also listed a $657.35 donation from Georgia Power Co. to offset expenses.
Cynthia McKinney filed a candidacy statement for the 2004 House primary.
Federal Election Commission records do not make it clear whether the expenses date from last year's campaign or are new.
McKinney -- who declined through a representative to be interviewed -- also continues to be touted as a possible presidential candidate for the environmental Green Party. Party members said McKinney, who served nine years in Congress, is second only to their 2000 nominee, Ralph Nader, as their choice for a presidential run.
Hugh Esco, a Georgia representative of the Green Party, said McKinney has not ruled out either political possibility. Esco, a former McKinney employee, said he believes a McKinney congressional run would depend on the outcome of a federal lawsuit several DeKalb County residents filed after her loss to Majette. The five DeKalb residents allege that crossover voting by Republicans in last year's primary -- a practice not prohibited under Georgia law -- violated the federal Voting Rights Act.
"What I've gathered from other Greens who have spoken for her is that she feels an obligation to seek that congressional seat if the federal courts find in favor of the plaintiffs who have brought the malicious crossover suit," Esco said.
When he last spoke to McKinney in person about two months ago, she seemed very "intrigued and excited" about becoming the potential Green candidate, he said. The organization will make a decision during its convention next spring.
While McKinney was in the U.S. House, she gained attention for taking stands that some voters found controversial, such as when, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she suggested that businesses with links to the White House stood a chance of profiting from the disasters.
But McKinney also received high marks from voters and organizations focused on assisting developing countries, protecting the environment and improving race relations. Since losing the election, she has been speaking out around the country for peace and against the war with Iraq.
Some who subscribe to the view that Republican crossover votes affected the outcome of the Democratic primary believe McKinney would have a good chance of defeating Majette in 2004. Among them is David Bositis, a senior researcher with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington think tank.
Bositis said that with at least two Republican candidates vying for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Sen. Zell Miller, Majette won't be able to rely on Republican support in the Democratic primary, whose winner is expected to sail through the general election in the heavily Democratic 4th District.
A post-election analysis by the Journal-Constitution, however, found that voters clearly identifiable as Republicans accounted for only about 3,000 of the ballots cast in the election, less than one-sixth of Majette's victory margin. Still, Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia who analyzed the contest, also found the vote was racially polarized, with McKinney drawing 83 percent of the African-American vote. Like Bositis, he predicts that a contested Republican primary in the Senate race could draw white Majette voters away from the Democratic primary next year.
"What Majette needs to be doing is getting out, courting in the black community, trying to broaden her coalition because she did so poorly in her community," Bullock said.
Majette, a former State Court judge in DeKalb County, said in a telephone interview from her Washington office that the numbers from the primary and the general election speak for themselves.
"I had 20,000 more votes than she did in the primary and won the district with 77 percent in the general election, and of course, it wasn't a district that was drawn for me. It was, in fact, one that she had input in having it drawn."
Majette said she is not worried about a rematch with McKinney. "I'm focusing my energy on doing what the people of the 4th District elected me to do and that is to bring home resources, like the $256,000 I brought home in my first 100 days."
© 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution