The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Wed. Jun 23, 2004

Anybody But Cynthia, The Sequel

Gosh, was it only two years ago that people of all stripes banded together to remove Cynthia McKinney from office? Back then I said, “There’s even an acronym that’s been coined for this search: ‘A.B.C.’ ... Anybody But Cynthia.”

She’s back.

Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) — known for making anti-Israel remarks and taking campaign money from groups suspected of terrorist ties — looks poised to win back her old district, a leading anti-McKinney donor said yesterday.

The donor, Larry Cooper, a medical oncologist and member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Atlanta, said Jewish activists had yet to coalesce around one of McKinney’s rivals in the Democratic primary in Georgia’s 4th District.

“The enthusiasm for jumping into the fray is definitely less than it was two years ago,” Cooper said. “I’m not seeing a significant dollar flow anywhere, but that doesn’t mean that if it got into a runoff it wouldn’t start. The concern is — I think this is a real possibility — Cynthia McKinney may take this thing without a runoff.”

The Hill: “McKinney poised to win, Jewish fundraiser laments”

McKinney, take the primary without a runoff? I think that’s scare talk, intended to shake loose donations and encourage constituents and donors to coalesce around one McKinney opponent (there are now 5). And I’m OK with that. It’s past time, as this primary is a mere 26 days away, and there’s been little if any talk about it. A “stealth campaign” definitely benefits McKinney more than anyone.

In the side column, you’ll see my effort to spread the word, in the form of a Blogad for Cathy Woolard. I heartily endorse her as the successor to Denise Majette. She’s a former president of the Atlanta City Council (no small gig), and previously spent years working in public policy on Capitol Hill (the big ‘un in DC, not the lil’ one downtown). I think she will be a fine replacement for Rep. Majette.

About Majette: “After announcing that she would not seek a second House term to run for the Senate, Majette made it clear she would do everything possible to keep McKinney out of Congress. So far, she has been focused on winning the Democratic Senate nomination, which is also being sought by millionaire Cliff Oxford.

First of all, there’s no way Majette can spare time to campaign against McKinney, when her political career depends on a longshot race people will be voting on that same day. And, unfortunately, I believe it is a longshot. I can’t condemn her for taking a shot at the Senate, but I’m afraid that come July 21, her “to do” list will consist of packing up her House office to come home at the end of this year. And if McKinney does end up regaining the office Majette has abandoned … well, I may change my mind about condemning her for her choice.

Although I think Mr. Cooper’s fears of a complete primary victory for McKinney are exaggerated for effect, there are some fears that she’s been underestimated this time around, and some reasons why:

McKinney has been running a very conservative, low-key race—no outrageous statements, no flares of temper, nothing to aggravate outside money.

The state Republican party has put out the word that it will not tolerate, as it did two years ago, any orchestrated effort by GOP forces to jump into the 4th District race. That decision alone easily could galvanize McKinney, who controls between 27,000 and 29,000 votes in DeKalb County, according to Republican estimates.

There could be many reasons for this decision. For instance, Republicans dearly love having McKinney around. She makes it easy to raise money.

AJC Political Insider: “If Cynthia McKinney is feeling her oats, maybe it’s because Johnny Isakson is, too”

Two years ago, “ABC: Anybody But Cynthia” was a cute little acronym to get attention, but it somewhat degraded the “Anybody,” Denise Majette, who was, and is, definitely a “Somebody.” That is even more true this year. There are five people running not named “McKinney,” any one of whom would likely do a better job than her.

But I think Cathy Woolard is the most qualified and capable of the group, and she’ll be getting my vote.

Warning: I’ll likely be talking about this race a lot over the next three weeks. What, would you rather hear more about Kerry/Bush? At least this will be fresh heated rhetoric, that you can’t find everywhere else.

Peanut Gallery

1  Richard wrote:

“Warning”? More like “enticement”.

2  phaTTboi wrote:

McKinney has never stopped campaigning for this seat since losing it. The loss for her was personal, and she has become the sympathetic favorite of the many micro-constituencies she has cultivated in working her way back.

As an example, a couple of months ago, I went to a public meeting at the Auburn Research Library, on the subject of e-voting machine reforms in Georgia. A number of organizations pushing for Voter Verifiable Paper Ballot Reciepts had invited a number of state politicians and public figures, including McKinney, to be panelists at the meeting, along with equipment vendors, and prominent system critics and software people. Of all those politicos invited, McKinney was the only one to show.

She not only showed, she sat on the podium for the full two hours of the meeting, interacting with other panel members, and engaging in dialogue with audience members that posed questions to the panel. It was a masterful public appearance that said to everyone in the room “You are important. Your views are important to me. I appreciate your invitation to appear, and your attendance.” It gained her a few hundred supporters, some of whom have spoken positively of her attendance on public mailing lists since.

And she has in person, some charisma, that is a little larger than life. She has an identifiable personal style, including hair, jewelry, voice and mannerisms, that makes her identifiable as a strong, independent woman to her supporters, and which are impressive to those meeting her the first time. Whether she is what she appears, is the subject of much debate and story, but I can add nothing of value, beyond a personal observation that she is a handsome, interesting woman in person.

I’m not a McKinney supporter; her politics are not mine, but I think she sincerely believes what she espouses. And sincerity counts for a lot with the voting public in her district, which is not my district, either. You can argue with her politics, but she has taken Tip O’Neill’s advice, and put in the time with the voters over the last couple of years. She is running a smart, quiet, very local campaign (much like she has run successfully before), and I think she’s got overwhelming name recognition, and a lot of grassroots support. She’s probably got the seat back, barring any major debacles between now and election days (primary, then general).

3  Reid wrote:

McKinney has never stopped campaigning for this seat since losing it

You mean, other than the time she spent thinking about a run for President on the Green Party, or suing to try and get her seat back via court ruling?

If, as you say, “McKinney was the only one to show,” and she is now “listening” to people, that’s a 180 from her previous no show reputation. She often gave quite the opposite impression to people by saying she’d be there, and then standing them up. Maybe she learned. It would be hard not to.

But you may be underestimating the mountain she’s got to push that rock back to the top of. She may be building bridges, but it’s only because she burned so many down two years ago, in a flamboyant manner. There’s a lot of residual resentment left, enough to get an incumbent unceremoniously tossed from her seat not long ago, something that doesn’t happen to a 12 year incumbent very often. That’s a big hill to climb back up.

And you’re right, she’s running a low key, no-controversy campaign, with a strong focus on appealing to youth through some kind of “Hip Hop” initiative (one of her top six issues).

Despite all the listening, and bridge building, putting in the time with the voters over the past two years … and hip hop … somehow this 45 year old white male constituent hasn’t been reached. Do you think many others in Dekalb County feel this way? I do.

I’m not going to venture any predictions, as there’s no “there” there right now, just one big fuzzy. But I’ll tell you this, Mr. “She’s probably got the seat back.” If she wins the primary without a runoff, I’ll let you run this blog for a week. Or maybe three.

So be careful what you wish for.

4  phaTTboi wrote:

You give me the keys and the pink slip to this thing for a week and your ambitions for zero traffic are assured. ‘Cause it’s one thing to give readers no reason to drop by, and another, entirely, to offend them in purposeful, unforgiveable splendor…

I grant you that a large chunk of McKinney’s district is Permanently Pissed Off, and she is well aware of this. But she’s taken that and twisted in Majette’s “abandonment” of the seat, and the gerrymandering of the Georgia district map, and a posture of personal sensitization after public humiliation, into a kind of bloodied-but-unbowed-and-determined-to-comeback-strong election persona that resonates with a lot of her base. I think she also knows that at this stage of her life and career, she’s no longer the fresh faced Democratic ingénue she once was, and unlikely to command national interest in the way she once did.

In place of that younger persona, I think she is looking to position herself as heir apparent to the mantle of John Lewis and other activist black politicians nearing retirement, whether she has earned such a mantle or not. There is a subtle and disturbing racial element to this polarization of her district, which McKinney is not helping, believing as she does that constituents like you are unreachable. Her political calculation is seemingly to acknowledge that like Popeye “I yam what I yam” and to package herself for election by the portion of her district that finds that acceptable.

In doing so, she appears to be a person of personal conviction to many, and one willing to do the job she was elected to do. Much of her base understand that sending incumbents back time and again is the way to gain for themselves the benefits of seniority in Washington, and are willing it be Cynthia, rather than someone who just wants the seat as a stepping stone to greater things.

None of this is likely to endear her to you or the rest of the PPO masses, but she seems willing to work for victory with a polarized base that she can turn out in a race not yet characterized as a strong contest. If she wins, it will be interesting to see how she runs her office, and if she loses, it will be even more interesting to see how her party approaches this district next time.

5  JLawson wrote:

Reid –

I’m mentioning your post on this in my blog, just trying to help out. I’ve got friends in the 4th, and they’re just as pleased about McKinney’s chances as you are.

So, a link to you, and a link to your blogad, and I’ll be urging folks to toss some money her way. Hope it helps.


6  emcee fleshy wrote:

Don’t get too upset with Majette for not running. She might have lost anyway, much for the same reason’s you’ve stated here. Cynthia is always at the events, and when she shows up, she jumps into the crowd and acts like an activist. Majette tends to not show up, and when she does, she sits up on the dais and acts like a Judge.

I think that either Woolard or Levetan would be a good compromise between competence at the capitol and competence with the constituents. Though Nadine Thomas might deserve a look as well.

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