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2 Outspoken Members of US Congress Defeated in Primary Election - 2002-08-21

Middle East politics figured prominently in a U.S. congressional primary election Tuesday in the southern State of Georgia. National Correspondent Jim Malone has more on the defeat of two outspoken members of Congress from Georgia one a liberal, the other a conservative.

Democrat Cynthia McKinney is well known for her outspoken style in Congress, but she will not be returning to Capitol Hill next year. Ms. McKinney was defeated by fellow African-American Democrat Denise Majette in a race heavily flavored by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Congresswoman McKinney has been a supporter of Arab causes and received much of her campaign contributions from Arab-Americans who live outside her Georgia congressional district. Denise Majette raised nearly twice as much money as her opponent, much of it from Jewish-American groups around the country.

Ms. Majette rejected critics who questioned whether she should have relied on the out-of-state campaign contributions.

"I make no apologies for accepting contributions from people who see that this is an important race and that this has more than local implications and that I am the kind of candidate that they can feel proud to support," she said.

The Majette campaign raised questions about some of the contributions from Arab groups to Congresswoman McKinney, alleging that some of the groups are tied to terrorist organizations.

Ms. McKinney says all of her contributions were legal.

Ms. McKinney was criticized by Republicans and fellow Democrats last year when she suggested that President Bush knew about the September 11 terrorist attacks in advance. But during the campaign she refused to tone down her outspoken style. "I was not elected to keep secrets once I got to Washington," she said. "I was not elected to remain silent, to sit down or to shut up."

Denise Majette is now the favorite to win the congressional seat in November.

Meanwhile, Congressman Bob Barr was defeated by fellow Republican John Linder in another congressional primary in Georgia. Congressman Barr is one of the most outspoken conservatives in the Congress and was a leading adversary of former President Bill Clinton.

Congressmen Barr and Linder were forced to run against each other after Georgia's Democratically-controlled state legislature reorganized the state's congressional districts.