Court Throws Out McKinney Primary Suit

A federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit filed by supporters of former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (search), who claimed her loss in the 2002 Democratic primary resulted from wide-scale Republican crossover voting.

A three-judge panel in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (search) agreed with a lower court Monday that the Democratic Party is free to hold an open primary.

Former State Court Judge Denise Majette (search) got 58 percent of the vote in the 2002 primary in the 4th Congressional District east of Atlanta, beating McKinney by almost 20,000 votes. She went on to win the general election by a landslide in the heavily Democratic district.

Supporters of McKinney, known for her outspoken and often provocative comments during five terms in Congress, alleged that Majette was a Republican disguised as a Democrat who got as many as 45,000 GOP votes in a "malicious crossover" aimed at defeating McKinney.

The McKinney supporters also said the open primary had a discriminatory effect, even though both Majette and McKinney are black.

The three-judge panel rejected both arguments Monday. The judges wrote that McKinney supporters "have not alleged facts to support a claim that the minority group has been excluded."

McKinney is trying to regain her seat and qualified last month for a spot on the July 20 primary ballot. Several other Democrats are also running, including former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard. Majette is not seeking a second term, instead running for the U.S. Senate seat to replace retiring Democrat Zell Miller.

McKinney was widely criticized for saying the Bush administration did nothing to stop the Sept. 11 attacks because the president's friends stood to profit. She also scolded then-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (search) for turning down a $10 million gift for the victims' families from a Saudi prince after the prince suggested U.S. policies toward the Mideast were partly to blame for the attacks.