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McKinney's future unsure after Ga. loss

Following Rep. Cynthia McKinney's second ouster from office in four years, some are closing the book on her political future.
Cynthia McKinney
Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., who lost a runoff priamry vote Tuesday, now has an undetermined future.John Bazemore / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Following Rep. Cynthia McKinney's second ouster from office in four years, some are closing the book on her political future.

"She's history," said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock. "You don't get another chance to come back after losing two primaries. It's rare to come back after losing once."

McKinney's supporters, however, said losing a bid for a seventh term in no way spells the end of her public life.

"Cynthia McKinney is loved nationally, locally and internationally," said State Rep. Tyrone Brooks of Atlanta, president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. "I expect her to move to the international scene, especially as it relates to peace, justice and environmental issues. This is going to elevate her to another level."

McKinney managed only 41 percent of the vote Tuesday to 59 percent for Hank Johnson, an attorney and former DeKalb County commissioner who will compete with Republican Catherine Davis in November to lead the heavily Democratic, predominantly black district east of Atlanta. Like McKinney, Johnson and Davis are black.

McKinney's concession speech sounded more like a call to arms for a future campaign. She ripped Republican leadership and vowed to continue fighting against war, poverty and injustice.

"We love our country, and that is why we dissent," McKinney said early Wednesday, flanked by her son, her parents and supporters. "A change is sweeping the world, and America must not be left out."

Previous difficulties
McKinney lost her seat in 2002 to political newcomer Denise Majette, but emerged from a crowded primary to regain the seat in 2004, when Majette vacated the seat to run for U.S. Senate. She had kept a relatively low profile until March, when she struck a Capitol Police officer who did not recognize her and tried to stop her from entering a House office building.

A grand jury in Washington declined to indict McKinney, but she was forced to apologize before the House. She drew less than 50 percent of the vote in last month's primary, forcing Tuesday's runoff.

Future prospects
How much of a role McKinney can play in national politics - and whether she considers another run for Congress - is going to depend on how much support she retains among black voters, said David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Joint Political and Economic Studies, a think tank that focuses on policy issues of concern to blacks.

"When she won last time ... she still had pretty solid support," Bositis said. "In terms of what happens now, I think it's going to sort of depend on how solid that black support remains."

Black voters casting ballots at her Stone Mountain precinct on Tuesday had mixed feelings about McKinney. Vanessa Milton voted for McKinney, and said the congresswoman had a relatively good track record before the Capitol Police incident. But the 48-year-old said she felt McKinney's personality had taken over.

"As an African-American, I am very committed to our people and being strong, but there comes a time when some people overdo it," Milton said. "I want her to be a strong black woman, but I don't want her to be a buffoon."

Natasha Brown, a 25-year-old law student, voted for Johnson.

"She's a pariah," she said of McKinney. "I'd do anything to vote her out."

No one answered the phones at the district office of McKinney, who has five months left in herterm.