- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

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 Republican challenger.

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 issue."

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 foot."

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. Majette.

"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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