Victories and Defeats Only Stepping Stones in Politics
September 10, 2002
by Joseph P. Tartaro
Dave Workmans report on the Georgia congressional primaries deserves a little more examination in my column. (click to read the article)
Several sources have suggested that the losses of both Reps. Cynthia McKinneya liberal Democratand Bob Barra conservative Republicanare due in part to the crossover factor. Georgia is one of about two dozen states that have open primaries that allow people registered with one major political party to help pick the candidate of another party during a primary.
McKinney herself blamed a crossover by Republicans for her defeat in the remapped Democratic district. Ungracious as ever, she said, according to The Washington Times:
We saw massive Republican crossover into the Democratic primary, and it looks like the Republicans wanted to beat me more than the Democrats wanted to keep me.
But USA Today noted that McKinney was not the only victim of the crossover factor.
In reporting the results of the election, USA Today commented:
Two congressional incumbents defeated in primaries this week were hurt by Georgias open primary system, one that allows voters of one party to cross lines and cast ballots in the other partys nominating election.
Crossover voting gave a significant lift to Democrat Denise Majette in unseating controversial Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who lost 58%-42% in Georgias 4th Congressional District. Crossovers by Democrats may have been a factor as well in Republican Rep. Bob Barrs 64%-36% loss to a fellow incumbent, Rep. John Linder, in the 7th District.
NRA Official Agrees
And in discussing the results of the Aug. 20 primary with me a day or two later, Chuck Cunningham, director of federal affairs for the National Rifle Association (NRA), also focused on the crossover vote.
Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, chairman of the Republican House campaign committee, said crossover voting also was a factor in the defeat of Barr, who had made himself a Democratic target by leading the impeachment of President Clinton. Davis said he had warned Barr that by choosing to face Linder rather than running for another open seat, your primary is going to be like a general election, according to USA Today.
As Workman explains in his Page 2 story, there are a lot of other reasons for the defeat this year of both Barr and McKinney, starting especially in Barrs case with the desire of state and national Democrats to use the post-census re-mapping of districts as a way of forcing Barr out of Congress. The redrawn 7th District in Georgia included more of John Linders old district than Barrs, and the governor and Democrat-controlled legislature were pretty sure both incumbents would seek reelection. I suspect that the Democrats in Atlanta were hoping that their redrawn districts would not only get rid of a Republican thorn in the partys side, but an embarrassment in their own ranks.
McKinney is far from a shrinking violet, and neither is her father. USA Today noted:
McKinneys loss was a rejection by voters in both parties of her controversial profile, which included support for Arab causes and a suggestion that Bush knew in advance of the Sept. 11 attacks. An inflammatory remark by her father on an Atlanta TV broadcast the day before (the primary) may have been the final blow. State Rep. Billy McKinney said his daughters tough fight was because Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-e-w-s.
Results a Standoff
From a standpoint of firearms civil rights, the Georgia election results were a standoff. Majette is expected to be as anti-gun as McKinney. Linder, whose voting record on the gun rights issue is almost identical to Barrs, can be expected to continue to vote to protect the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.
But Linder is not expected to be leading the charge on guns and other issues as had Barr. Linder is described as a quieter, parliamentary technician who has the ability to move a bill through the House rules.
Barrs loss of a House seat at this time may only be a prelude to otherpossibly highergovernment positions. He is a former federal prosecutor as well as having been an experienced and highly visible member of Congress. He has done yeoman service for America and for the Republican Party.
I would be surprised if after this session of Congress is adjournedbefore Election Day but no one is saying when for surethat the White House or other Republican leaders dont appoint, nominate or push Barr toward some post in the Administration. With his background, it might help everyone if Barr is nominated to fill a high post in the Justice Department. His understanding of the whole Constitutionnot just the Second Amendmentcould be valuable to Attorney General John Ashcroft.
While Barr is usually labeled a conservative, constitutionalist might be a more descriptive term. Americans and especially the general media should not forget the important role Barr has played in recent years in helping to deflect attacks on a wide variety of basic civil liberties. Im sure key players at the American Civil Liberties Union will never forget that Barr was a most helpful member of the Judiciary Committee, especially during the Clinton years.
And speaking of Clinton and the fact that politicians, by profession, are generally moving upward, even if they are delayed by one or two election defeats or other setbacks, Associated Press (AP) reports that Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun building a national political organization, softening her liberal image and taking a lead role in Democratic criticism of President Bushsteps toward a potential campaign to become the first woman president.
According to AP, former President Clinton speaks about his wifes run for the presidency as a matter of when, not if, say people who have discussed it with him. Several of her associates said she is eyeing 2008 as the year to run.
Sen. Clinton said recently that she will not break a pledge to complete her six-year term that expires in 2006.
I have no plans to run for president, she said in a telephone interview.
AP speculated that her actions suggest the former first lady is positioning herself for a history-making race. She has:
It used to be that Democrats came to Washington hoping to work for Ted Kennedy, said Donna Brazile, Al Gores campaign manager. Now they want to earn their stripes with Hillary.
Clinton has miles to go to override criticism by Republicans that she is a liberal Democrat whose major policy initiativethe 1993 universal health care planwas a political and policy disaster.
I think its always hard for somebody with a full record and a range of interests to be portrayed . . . in soundbites, Clinton said. I was the first person in the country to call for teacher testing as first lady of Arkansas and I took enormous heat for that. I supported welfare reform in the Clinton Administration and I took enormous heat for that.
Several advisers and friends close to Clinton, speaking on condition of anonymity, say she wants a Democrat to win the White House in 2004. If Bush wins re-election, however, she would almost certainly be a candidate four years later, they said.
Her husband was at a small dinner party in February, in Perth, Australia, when someone asked if Hillary would run for president. One person described the former presidents unhesitating reply, Not in 2004, as reflexive, confident and leaving the clear impression that his wife had already decided to try in 2008.