Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s strong backing for a Palestinian state has led a number of Jewish groups to throw their support behind her opponent, a replay of at least one aspect of the Georgia Democrat’s loss during the 2002 primary.
Because neither McKinney (47 percent) nor DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson (44 percent) won the majority of the primary vote on July 18, they will face a runoff election on Aug. 8, with early voting July 31 to Aug. 4.
The Jewish weekly The Forward said Jewish donors could be the deciding factor in this race, noting that the Washington Political Action Committee already committed to giving the maximum of $5,000 and the National Action Committee PAC committed to give at least $1,000.
“I am happy to have the support of many Jewish people,” Johnson told Cybercast News Service, but “I do not think the Jewish groups will decide this. I think that would be inaccurate.”
“We’ve received donations from individuals from throughout the state of Georgia, and some from outside of the state of Georgia,” he noted. “Most of them were small amounts of less than $250.
“Our war chest does not match with the thousands [McKinney’s] been picking up from her wealthy donors in California, in New York, Las Vegas and other places around the United States, not to mention the various PACs,” said Johnson.
He added that Middle East politics will not be the deciding factor. “The issue is whether she’s been an effective representative for the people of the Fourth District.”
However, during McKinney’s 2002 primary campaign – which she lost to Democrat Denise Majette – the incumbent congresswoman’s opponent also raised large sums from Jewish contributors.
McKinney’s father, a state representative in Georgia, blamed her loss on the Jewish community. “Jews have bought everybody,” Billy McKinney said at the time.
In 2002, the Washington Post reported that “at least three-quarters of the $234,299 McKinney has raised from individuals this year is from donors with Muslim or Arab American surnames, the great majority of whom live outside her district.”