ATLANTA – Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney faced her Democratic primary runoff opponent tonight in the first televised debate before next Tuesday's ballot.
Hank Johnson, a former DeKalb County commissioner, trailed McKinney by just 2,000 votes in the primary election two weeks ago.
During the half-hour debate, Johnson called McKinney "a desperate candidate seeking to distort truth to gain re-election." McKinney accused Johnson of being beholden to developers and special interests when he was a county commissioner. She warned voters he would be beholden to Republican contributors if elected to Congress.
Since the primary, Johnson has racked up more than 600 financial contributions to his campaign, including donations from former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes and former Republican candidate Guy Millner. The winner of the runoff election faces Republican challenger Catherine Davis.
McKinney has touted her record of service to constituents — including work to provide millions for quality of life initiatives in DeKalb County — as well as outspokenness on national issues like the war in Iraq and the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.
Johnson has continued to criticize McKinney as an embarrassment to those she represents.
Throughout the night, there was little focus on the candidates' stances on issues like education, healthcare, and the environment, which are mentioned on their campaign Web sites. Johnson was forced to defend accusations involving ethics violations, a bankruptcy and failing to pay income tax. McKinney had to answer for her voting record.