4th congressional district
It's time for McKinney to say goodbye, again
Cynthia McKinney may be the most contrarian voice in the U.S. House.
Along with many constituents, we admire her willingness to speak truth to power on issues such as Iraq, discrimination and environmental destruction. The lawmaker, who represents most of DeKalb County and parts of Rockdale and Gwinnett, was among the first to point to President Bush's incompetence after 9/11, even as his approval ratings soared. After Hurricane Katrina, she called for a halt in federal funding for Louisiana jurisdictions that didn't allow African-Americans to flee from New Orleans to a mostly white suburb.
But McKinney often undermines her effectiveness by either overstating her case or by miring herself in combative personal issues that place her own ego ahead of the district. While she wasn't indicted for allegedly hitting a Capitol Hill cop, the recent incident didn't exactly model great leadership. Few Democratic or African-American colleagues bothered to rally to her side -- a testament to the broadening sense that her embarrassing behavior does more good for Republicans than for her own party.
Case in point: The AJC pushed far more significant news of the indictment of former GOP leader Tom DeLay off the front page in favor of McKinney's sensational cop-wallop escapade.
After losing her seat in 2002, McKinney regained it two years later with an impressive thumping of a crowded, well-financed field. It's unlikely that the congresswoman will be dislodged in the Democratic primary, and the primary essentially serves as the election because the district contains so few Republicans.
District residents have a reasonable alternative, however, in former DeKalb Commissioner Hank Johnson (another Democrat, John Coyne, neither lives in the district nor has the appropriate experience). Johnson, a criminal defense attorney, is as soft-spoken and methodical as McKinney is charismatic and abrasive. But he holds similar -- although occasionally more moderate -- positions on issues like the environment, transportation, taxes and the Iraq War. Most importantly, he's less likely to burn political capital on dead-end controversies or such quixotic campaigns as McKinney's effort to make public the files of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.
13th congressional district
South siders need to send Scott a message
Georgia's 13th Congressional District is a gerrymandered nightmare. But its constituents, spread mostly across the south metro area's working-class, largely black suburbs, deserve an energetic representative who works on behalf of their interests.
U.S. Rep. David Scott has failed to do that. He's a nice guy, an ad exec who's apparently learned that pleasing people is more important than principle. Often, the Democrat is hard to distinguish from Republicans.
That was evident in his recent vote to dramatically cut inheritance taxes on the super-rich (few of whom live in Scott's district) at the expense of education, social services and the budget deficit. Before winning his first term in 2002, Scott said he leaned toward keeping the tax. But he quickly betrayed his constituents by consistently voting, in essence, to burden his district's children with debt so that they can enhance Paris Hilton's partying lifestyle.
Scott has a solid challenger. Donzella James served a decade in the state Senate. She pushed energetically for idealistic causes, ranging from reducing garbage to raising the state minimum wage to cracking down on DUI drivers. Mostly, she lost those fights. If Democrats, retook the House this year, however, she might often be on the winning side in Washington.
James is unlikely to beat the incumbent. At the very least, however, Scott's constituents should remind him that he works for them -- and not for special interests who are wildly out of step with the district's needs.
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