Atlanta Jews Seek To Defeat
Rep. McKinney's Father
By Steve Miller
The Washington Times
A political upstart is receiving a surge of Jewish backing in his bid to unseat
30-year Georgia state representative Billy McKinney, the father of ousted U.S.
Rep. Cynthia McKinney.
Mr. McKinney, 75, finds himself the target of the Atlanta-area Jewish
community after his most recent disparagement of Jews, which has bolstered the
campaign coffers of his challenger in the Democratic primary, John Noel.
Asked about his daughter's ailing campaign the day before her defeat in the Aug.
20 primary, Mr. McKinney said, "Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-E-W-S."
Mr. McKinney faces the 31-year-old Mr. Noel in Tuesday's runoff election. Mr.
McKinney picked up 48 percent of the vote on Aug. 20 to Mr. Noel's 46
percent, forcing the runoff. The winner will have the seat, since there is no
Mr. Noel, a self-employed lighting contractor, has received calls from Jewish
voters in the state's 44th District, asking if they can help him defeat Mr.
McKinney. Fund-raisers in the community have raised nearly $15,000 for the
challenger, and the contributions continue to flow.
"Yes, they want to help, and I have received a considerable chunk of money
from Jewish supporters," said Mr. Noel, who is not Jewish.
Mr. McKinney's record of attacks on Jews, including a 1996 episode in which he
referred to his daughter's Republican opponent as a "racist Jew," has not affected
the black politician's career in the 60 percent black district. The former police
officer has often run for re-election unopposed.
"I wasn't even going to make it a campaign issue, but it has become one," said
Mr. Noel, who is white. "But in this case, it was Billy McKinney who made it an
Mr. McKinney did not return several calls seeking comment.
Sherry Frank, Southeast area director for the American Jewish Committee, said
the Jewish community, which makes up about 5 percent of the district in
metropolitan Atlanta, is clearly angry about the comments.
"He has gotten out of control with his anti-Semitism, so Jews have reason to
want him out. Individual Jews are urging folks to give [Mr. Noel] money, just as
blacks are urging to get out the vote for Billy. The question is whether [the
Jewish bloc] will succeed."
The Anti-Defamation League last week issued a press release condemning Mr.
McKinney's August remark, calling it "classic anti-Semitism."
When Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan visited Atlanta on Aug. 17 to
support Mrs. McKinney, her father sat by his side during a rally, further
alienating Jewish followers.
The Jewish effort to turn back Mr. McKinney is augmented by the same group
of activists that assembled a grass-roots effort to oust Mrs. McKinney, a
Democrat who lost her 4th District seat to state Judge Denise Majette.
Mrs. McKinney attributed her loss to a coalition of Republicans who voted in the
open Democratic primary and upscale blacks who saw her as too liberal. Her
pro-Palestinian views also prompted an outpouring of Jewish money to Mrs.
Majette, who is expected to defeat easily in November the Republican challenger
selected in a run-off Tuesday.
Further alienating her constituents, the five-term lawmaker in March accused
President Bush of having advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks.
Mrs. McKinney's father has staunchly supported her, and, in turn, now draws
the same ire from the community as his daughter.
Goodbyebilly.com is a Web site operated by the people who put up
goodbyecynthia.com, sites that feature anti-McKinney messages and solicits
contributions and volunteers.
"We are trying for daddy now," said William Head, an Atlanta criminal defense
attorney who organized the effort to remove Mrs. McKinney.
"I am so Democratic it would make you sick, but there is no room for the
McKinneys in politics," Mr. Head said. "And Billy McKinney shot himself in the
Mr. Head spent about $10,000 in his effort to defeat Mrs. McKinney. Volunteers
knocked on doors, handed out fliers and made phone calls in support of Mrs.
"Billy McKinney spent so much time supporting his daughter, he hasn't been
carrying on his own campaign,'' Mr. Head said. ''So the question for his
supporters is whether they have enough horses to pull this through.''
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