Matt Towery

Most media have missed the most important aspect of Rep. Cynthia McKinney's alleged assault on a Capitol policeman.

However this plays out legally, and whatever McKinney, D-Ga., may have belatedly offered by way of an apology, she will probably lose her re-election bid this November.

"What?" I can hear the incredulous cry from Washington's expert observers.

"That's insane," they're saying. "She has a heavily weighted African-American district that votes overwhelmingly Democratic!"

True, but let's not forget that she also lost a re-election race in 2002 for similar -- but ultimately less serious -- reasons.

Back then, InsiderAdvantage released a poll that suggested McKinney would lose to a little-known local judge by the name of Denise Majette.

The poll, which came out well before that Democratic primary contest, was doubted by the most seasoned of national and state political experts. But it was correct.

Here's what happened in 2002, and how something like a refrain of that story will probably play out again this year.

In 2002, McKinney made post-9/11 comments that irritated many otherwise liberal Democrats in her district, black and white. She said more or less that President George W. Bush had known the terrorist attacks would happen before they did.

Her ties to the Islamic community, including significant campaign donations from Islamic business leaders, only heightened concerns about her.

It helped Majette in her upset bid that she was an appealing candidate, and African American herself. It was easier for her than it would have been for many others to peel away a certain fragment of the congressional district's black voters from McKinney.

Critically, our early poll indicated a coming crossover vote: Independents and even some Republicans who lived in the northernmost (read: whitest) sections of the district had decided to forego voting in the GOP primary for governor and instead vote in the Democratic primary. Their motive was to defeat Cynthia McKinney, and they did.

For some inexplicable reason, Majette served only one term in Congress before trying a run for U.S. Senate. She lost badly to one of the state's Republican stars, Johnny Isakson.

Make no mistake, McKinney will be up against the same election dynamics when the Georgia Democratic primary is held this summer. It's likely -- though not yet official -- that another appealing black candidate, a county commissioner from the heart of the district, is set to oppose her.

Independent and Republican voters in this district will have few temptations to "stay home" and vote in the GOP primary.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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