WASHINGTON – Despite nasty campaigns that resulted in the ouster of two of their members, the Congressional Black Caucus is moving forward and appears willing to embrace the Alabama and Georgia candidates who beat their own, sources said Thursday.
"Within two or three days after she won, she got phone calls from several members of the CBC congratulating her and asking about her interests regarding committee assignments," said Jeannie Layson, spokeswoman for Democrat Denise Majette, who beat out controversial Rep. Cynthia McKinney in Georgia's 4th District primary in August.
"She’s continued that dialogue ever since," Layson added.
In Alabama's 7th Congressional District, a spokeswoman for Democrat Artur Davis, who beat out Rep. Earl Hilliard 55-44 percent in another primary upset last June, said he was also receiving words of support from members of the CBC.
A source close to the CBC said that both candidates will be embraced "with open arms" when they are elected.
"We assume that [Majette] will be welcomed into the CBC as a member -- people are moving forward," said one source close to the CBC who did not want to be named.
Both Davis and Majette are expected to win their districts, which has token competition from a Libertarian and Republican candidate respectively.
Members of the all-Democratic Congressional Black Caucus have been playing down reports that the defeat of their two House members exposed a growing rift between blacks and Jews within the Democratic Party. While Majette and Davis are both black, they were both the recipients of hefty support from outside Jewish groups who had axes to grind with pro-Arab McKinney and Hilliard.
These pro-Israel groups poured thousands of dollars into the challengers' campaigns with an interest in seeing the incumbents' defeated for their long-standing support of Palestinians. McKinney blamed the Jewish lobby, as well as Republicans voting in the Democratic primary, for her 58-42 percent loss.
A report released by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week found that minus the Republican crossover vote, which is legal in that state, McKinney would have lost her primary anyway.
Nonetheless, five black voters in the district have filed a lawsuit alleging that they were disenfranchised because of the crossover vote.
In September, participants in the CBC's annual conference in Washington said retaliation was in the air, suggesting that black congressional members would pull support for pro-Israel candidates in the future.
But Davis, who also spoke at the conference, and Majette are unlikely to feel any of that retaliation, given the extent of their black Democratic constituencies, and one source close to the CBC said Davis appeared to be more than welcome at September’s conference.
Layson said that Majette, a former Georgia state judge, has received financial support from several members and has had "several good conversations" from prominent CBC members like New York Reps. Charlie Rangel and Gregory Meeks, and fellow Georgia Democratic Reps. John Lewis and Sanford Bishop.
"Yes, the congressman has reached out to Denise Majette," said Mike McKay, spokesman for Meeks, who along with CBC Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, donated cash to McKinney's campaign.
"There are no hard feelings on behalf of Congressman Meeks towards Denise Majette at all -- he has reached out and is looking forward to working with her," McKay added.
Rep. Albert Wynn, R-Md., is also on the list of callers Majette has received in recent weeks.
"I think Denise Majette's a delightful candidate and brings a wealth of experience to the job," said Wynn, chairman of the CBC’s political action committee, which as of September, had not given money to either Majette or Davis, according to the Federal Elections Commission.
The Congressional Black Caucus PAC did not give any money to McKinney.
Hilliard received $10,000 from the PAC before his June loss. The rest of the nearly $50,000 contributed to the PAC went to Democratic challengers in five House and two Senate races.