DECATUR, Ga. – Rep. Cynthia McKinney, known for her conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11 attacks and a scuffle with a U.S. Capitol police officer, conceded the Democratic primary runoff early Wednesday in a speech that blamed the media for her loss and included a song criticizing President Bush.
McKinney, the state's first black congresswoman, said electronic voting machines are "a threat to our democracy" and lashed out a journalists, accusing them of injuring her mother and failing to "tell the whole story."
"My mother was hurt by someone in the press in this room tonight," McKinney said after losing to challenger Hank Johnson Tuesday. "One of my assistants needs stitches because of the press that are in this room tonight."
WXIA-TV said on its Web site that a boom microphone had struck members of McKinney's entourage: "In the confusion, McKinney staffers struck an 11Alive photographer and knocked his camera equipment to the ground." Earlier in the day, the station said a McKinney staffer had scuffled with another 11Alive photojournalist.
Johnson defeated McKinney by more than 12,000 votes, getting 59 percent of the vote to 41 percent for McKinney. The black attorney and former DeKalb County commissioner is now the general-election favorite in the predominantly Democratic district east of Atlanta.
He will face Republican Catherine Davis, a black human resources manager who ran against McKinney in 2004.
"The people in District Four were looking for a change," Johnson said. "And what happened indicated it was time for a change."
In her concession speech, McKinney repeated her criticism of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq, and said electronic voting machines, which have been used in all of Georgia's precincts since 2002, "are a threat to our democracy."
"Let the word go out. We aren't going to tolerate any more stolen elections. ... We want our party back!" she said.
Her campaign manager, John Evans, blamed the loss on the ABC — Anybody But Cynthia — movement and the Capitol Hill incident.
"It's over," he said. "Folks just beat us. They got a lot of white votes, a lot of Republican votes and they took some of our votes where we have been stable."
McKinney has long been controversial, once suggesting the Bush administration had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Tuesday's election was the second time in three election years that she has lost. After 10 years in Congress, the firebrand lawmaker lost in the 2002 primary to political newcomer Denise Majette, who vacated the seat two years later to run for the U.S. Senate. McKinney emerged from a crowded 2004 primary to reclaim the seat.
After her return to Washington, McKinney kept a relatively low profile until March, when her scuffle with a Capitol Hill police officer grabbed national headlines.
McKinney struck a Capitol Police officer who did not recognize her and tried to stop her from entering a House office building. A grand jury in Washington declined to indict her, but she was forced to apologize before the House. She drew less than 50 percent of the vote in last month's primary, forcing Tuesday's runoff.
"I'm getting tired of being embarrassed. She's an embarrassment to the whole state," said James Vining, 72, who said he voted for McKinney's opponent.
But Anthony Tyler, 47, said he backed McKinney because of her outspoken nature. "She speaks her mind, regardless of the issue. She is straight forward," he said.