Incumbent Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was forced into a three-week runoff campaign after drawing less than 50 percent of the vote in her first re-election bid since her scuffle with a Capitol Hill police officer.
McKinney only edged former two-term DeKalb County commissioner Hank Johnson by fewer than 1,500 votes—28,507 to 27,049. The two will pair off again in an Aug. 8 runoff for the Congressional 4th District.
As the results came in early Tuesday evening, McKinney supporters celebrated her lead over Johnson, but the votes tightened throughout the evening as more districts reported. At one point, Johnson had the lead over McKinney.
“It’s an exciting night. We’ve gone out and touched voters wherever they are in this district,” Johnson said late Tuesday night.
Just after 11 p.m., McKinney had regained her lead over Johnson with 47 percent of the votes to Johnson’s 44.6 percent. It was not the type of lead McKinney and her supporters had planned for as they prepared during the day for a victory party at a Decatur hotel.
McKinney’s supporters said they expected that McKinney would be able to come out and claim outright victory by 11 p.m., but that was not the case. McKinney finally appeared about 12:40 a.m. Wednesday and gave a speech in which she appealed to the voters of the 4th District for their support.
“You can’t keep a good woman down!” she told members of the crowd, that included war protester Cindy Sheehan and Patricia Roberts, the mother of the first Georgia soldier killed in Iraq.
While McKinney kept a low profile after returning to Congress, a scuffle with a Capitol Hill police officer in March again thrust her into the national spotlight. Facing possible criminal charges, McKinney was forced to apologize on the floor of the House. A federal grand jury in Washington declined to indict her.