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McKinney Avoids Runoff, Will Rejoin Congress

Isakson Also Advances During Busy Primary Day in Georgia, North Carolina

Cynthia McKinney (D) is headed back to Congress after the controversial five-term ex-lawmaker won a majority in Georgia’s 4th district primary Tuesday, avoiding what had been widely considered an all but inevitable runoff.

Rep. Johnny Isakson (Ga.), who had lost two previous bids for statewide office, also avoided a runoff Tuesday in balloting for the GOP Senate nomination by taking 53 percent. He is now considered the heavy favorite in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Zell Miller (D).

However, Isakson will have to wait for an Aug. 10 runoff to determine whom he will face on the November ballot. Rep. Denise Majette, the one-term Congresswoman who defeated McKinney in a 2002 primary, led a crowded Democratic field Tuesday but fell short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Wealthy technology entrepreneur Cliff Oxford, who sunk more than $1 million of his personal fortune into the primary, came in second and will face Majette in the runoff. With almost all precincts reporting, Majette led Oxford 41 percent to 21 percent.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, voters in North Carolina’s 1st district elected former state Supreme Court Justice G.K. Butterfield (D) to succeed Rep. Frank Ballance (D), who resigned in June due to health problems. Butterfield also won a four-way primary on Tuesday, giving him the opportunity to seek a full-term in the seat on the November ballot.

All total, primary voters in Georgia and North Carolina decided more than a half-dozen competitive House primaries on Tuesday, in addition to setting the fields for two open-seat Senate contests.

In Georgia’s GOP Senate race, Isakson beat out Godfather’s Pizza magnate Herman Cain and Rep. Mac Collins, who garnered 26 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

In the 4th district, McKinney won with 51 percent of the vote and Tuesday night called her victory “one of the greatest political comebacks in history.”

State Sen. Liane Levetan (D), whose own polling had shown her positioned to make a runoff with McKinney, got 21 percent. Former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard (D) placed third with 19 percent of the vote. McKinney is now heavily favored over Republican Catherine Davis in November.

In Georgia’s 6th district GOP race to succeed Isakson, state Sens. Tom Price and Robert Lamutt will square off in the Aug. 10 runoff. Price took 34 percent while Lamutt, who spent more than $1.2 million of his own money, got 28 percent of the vote. He edged out state Sen. Chuck Clay, who ended up with 22 percent.

The 8th district GOP primary to replace Collins, who placed a disappointing third in the battle for the GOP Senate nod, is also headed to a runoff. State Rep. Lynn Westmoreland led former Bush administration official Dylan Glenn, 45 percent to 38 percent, in the first round of balloting.

The 6th and 8th districts in Georgia are all safe Republican seats that will not be heavily contested this fall.

Meanwhile, in the Peach State’s 12th district Democratic primary, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow won a 51 percent to 29 percent victory over former state Sen. Doug Haines on Tuesday. Barrow, who was favored by national Democrats, will face off against targeted Rep. Max Burns (R) in November.

In North Carolina, what had been the state’s most contentious primary battle is headed for what will likely be an equally nasty runoff on Aug. 17. Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson, who ran arguably the most controversial campaign among the eight Republicans vying to succeed Rep. Richard Burr (R), edged out state Sen. Virginia Foxx, 24 percent to 22 percent. Wealthy businessman Ed Broyhill, long considered the frontrunner in the race, got 21 percent of the vote.

In the open-seat 10th district GOP race to succeed retiring Rep. Cass Ballenger (R), Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman topped the first round of balloting with 34 percent of the vote. He will face state Rep. Patrick McHenry, who got 26 percent of the vote Tuesday, in the runoff. Businessman Sandy Lyons came in third with 20 percent of the vote, despite the fact that he was endorsed and touted by Ballenger.

Both the 5th and 10th districts are heavily Republican seats and whoever wins those runoffs will be virtually assured election to the 109th Congress.

Burr and Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles (D) cruised to wins in their respective Senate nominating contests in the Tar Heel State. They will face off in November in the race to replace Sen. John Edwards (D), who will officially become the Democratic nominee for vice president next week.