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March 29, 2004

Finally! A Candidate in Georgia...

By Byron LaMasters

It took long enough, but it finally looks as if Democrats will be fielding a decent candidate in Georgia: U.S. Rep. Denise Majette. Majette, if you will remember defeated former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney in the Democratic primary two years ago, and (I think) is one of the more conservative members of the Congressional Black Caucus. In fact, she was elected, in part, because of cross-over Independent and Republican votes in the primary. She seems like the kind of candidate that has a chance to win statewide. The Atlanta Constitution Journal reports:

U.S. Rep. Denise Majette confirmed today that she is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Zell Miller. Majette conceded it is late to dive into a statewide race. But she said she felt moved to run as a counter to GOP messages she finds extreme. "The Republicans keep trotting out their right-wing rhetoric on God, guns and gays in an attempt to divide the electorate and distract from the serious problems they're not addressing," she told reporters.


Democratic leaders say Majette, who rose from obscurity to defeat 10-year incumbent Cynthia McKinney in 2002, has not sought wide party support or consulted them about seeking higher office.

Former state Rep. Billy McKinney, father of Cynthia, was on hand for today's announcement.

McKinney said Majette's decision to leave her seat to run for the Senate does not mean his daughter is a shoo-in to win back her old congressional seat. He said the race is "wide open."

"With the Democrats and the Republicans working hard against us it'll be a tough race," he said.

Asked by a reporter if Cynthia McKinney would support Majette's Senate bid, McKinney responded "Hell no. You've got to be crazy."

Since Miller announced his retirement, Majette was one of several names mentioned to run for his seat, but hers did not make the short list that the party has been discussing in recent weeks.

Until now, all signs indicated that Majette was preparing for a highly anticipated rematch against McKinney, whom Majette defeated with stunning ease in the 2002 Democratic primary. McKinney, Georgia's first African-American woman in Congress, declared her candidacy Saturday.

McKinney would be smart to count her blessings. While I'd prefer to see someone else hold that congressional seat, McKinney has a decent shot at winning it back (now that it will be open), but if she antagonizes Majette's supporters, it will be more difficult. As for the Senate race, it's still the Republicans best pick-up opportunity, but it's no longer a sure thing.

A few weeks ago From the Roots (DSCC blog) posted an entry saying that, "We are hearing some good news in GA so stay tuned on that front. A great candidate could emerge soon. So stay tuned... ". Is Majette the "good news" they were referring to then? I think that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, the Lt. Governor, the Attorney General or the Secretary of State (all three are Democrats) would have been a better candidate, but Majette could be interesting. We'll see soon.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at March 29, 2004 12:31 PM | TrackBack


Gotta say, I know Georgia pretty well, and Majette cannot pull it off. Her absence from the CD-4 primary means that DeKalb County crossover whites will likely vote vote in the GOP primary, lending support to GOPer Johnny Isakson. Isakson is the most moderate Republican running, and it will be hard for Majette to carry the center against him.

Majette had previously defeated Cynthia McKinney, who is running again. But, in that race, Majette pulled 93% of the white vote and just 17% of the black vote. And i doubt that McKinney and her operation will encourage voter turnout for Majette among blacks in either the primary or the general election (McKinney once referred to Majette as a "Tomette").

Still, good to see a candidate who atleast meets the criterion of "quality challenger."

Posted by: Keith G at March 29, 2004 02:06 PM

To Keith G:

Under Georgia election law, can she run for Senate and lose and still seek re-election to the House. Otherwise, McKinney probably will regain here House seat -- not a great prospect.

Posted by: notgonnatell at March 29, 2004 09:37 PM

In more Georgia news that might interest you ... [Check the third paragraph.]

Posted by: Greg Greene at March 30, 2004 01:20 AM

To the unnamed poster (who deigned to not leave an email for private response). . . actually, no, she can't.

The primaries are the same day, and you can't seek two different federal posts simultaneously. Majette, by filing for the US House, will not be a candidate for Congress.

She could possibly run as a write-in spoiler, but the only person elected to Congress as a write-in candidate in living memory was . . . Strom Thurmond.

I think you're a little confused.

Posted by: Keith G at March 30, 2004 06:12 AM

Keith G:

In Texas, you CAN run for two federal offices (although not House and Senate) at the same time. LBJ, Lloyd Bentsen and Phil Gramm have used that Texas statute.

Sorry I am not well informed about Georgia election law; that was why I posed the question.

Posted by: notgonnatell at March 30, 2004 01:40 PM


I'm not trying to make this a p*ssing match, but you did say "Under Georgia election law" and the tenor of your note placed the validity of my statement in question.

Also, no sh*t you can run for president and the senate in Texas. It's another legacy of LBJ's era, and LB used in 1988 as well (and Phil Gramm in 1996).

Seems you missed on both point of fact and on the state in question.

Maybe you can come up to OU and take my Southern Politics class this summer, and learn about election law and the voting rights act and other fun things.

Keep flying the flag, tho, Texas needs two parties.

Posted by: Keith G at March 30, 2004 02:23 PM

Keith G:

I apologize if somehow you inferred something snotty by my posting. I have re-read it and can't find the slight, but my regrets nevertheless.

I've practiced some election law in Texas over the past 15 years, but I freely acknowledge that I know nothing about Georgia election law and was looking for some info.

Posted by: notgonnatell at March 30, 2004 03:17 PM

Likewise, and I'm sorry for getting my nose out of joint. It has been that kind of week.

You ever cross-examined me?


Posted by: Keith G at March 30, 2004 03:50 PM
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