The chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party discounts criticism by U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney blaming the party for primary losses by McKinney and her father.

"In a primary with one Democrat vs. another Democrat, the voters of Georgia made their decision," state Rep. Calvin Smyre of Columbus told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Smyre was responding to comments McKinney during a panel discussion at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference on Thursday in Washington.

"The Democratic Party cost my father his office," McKinney said, referring to state Rep. Billy McKinney's defeat in Tuesday in a runoff against political newcomer John Noel. She didn't elaborate.

The congresswoman also accused Gov. Roy Barnes of helping her opponent, Denise Majette, in the Aug. 20 Democratic primary. McKinney said she called the governor's office on election night to say, "You need to get your staffers out of my opponent's headquarters."

Barnes' spokeswoman rejected the claim that the governor's staff aided Majette.

McKinney's remark could only add to speculation that she might leave the Democratic Party, which Billy McKinney indicated he and his daughter would do.

Members of the Green Party who worked on her campaign said this week that McKinney is considering joining the 2004 presidential ticket with Ralph Nader. Adam Eidinger -- the Green Party's nominee for "shadow representative" in Washington -- said the odds were "50-50" that McKinney would switch parties before she leaves Congress in January.

McKinney has not commented on the report. But Tuesday night, as polling in the runoff vote showed he would lose his re-election bid, her father said he would leave the Democratic Party and take his daughter with him.

"I've always worked on what the Democrats wanted and tried to defeat Republicans," he said. "Now I'm an independent .... We're through with the Democrats."