DeKalb County commissioner to challenge McKinney for Congress

Once again, Cynthia McKinney will face a challenge for her seat in Congress.

The District 4 representative returned to Washington a year ago after regaining her seat, but she'll face another challenge in next year's Democratic primary.

Next week, DeKalb County Commissioner Henry "Hank" Johnson Jr. will officially announce his campaign against the embattled House member.

"As a commissioner, I know the importance of highly effective congressional representation. Resources are scarce and the stakes are high," Johnson said. "I am a consensus-builder. I enjoy bringing people together to meet serious challenges. I'm looking forward to meeting voters in every part of the 4th Congressional District, to a vigorous campaign and the opportunity to serve in the 110th Congress."

McKinney is known for her controversial comments on the Sept. 11 attacks, the war in Iraq and other national issues but has faced criticism for not bringing home enough support to her district, which includes portions of DeKalb, Rockdale and southern Gwinnett counties.

In 2002, McKinney lost her seat to Democrat Denise Majette, but some attribute the loss to Republicans crossing over to vote McKinney out.

In 2004, Majette ran an unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate, and McKinney regained her seat.

Johnson will hold events in DeKalb and Rockdale on Tuesday to announce his race.

Johnson, who is currently in his second term as a county commissioner, represents DeKalb County's fifth commission district, which includes the southern and eastern parts of the county bordering Rockdale, Henry and Fulton.

Chambliss, Linder praise Iraq elections

Some local legislators considered an election half a world away a victory for America and the world.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., spent last week in Iraq as an official observer of the country's third election.

"It was truly a historic day for the people of Iraq. The excitement and the enthusiasm on the faces of the Iraqi people was so emotional, and so exciting to those of us who were there on the ground in both al-Hilla and in Baghdad. We were able to see history in the making," he said. "The fact that Iraqis provided security for the polling places, and the absence of violence are further signs that we are making real progress. When Iraqis are able to provide overall security in the country, then we are going to be able to bring our troops home. "

U.S. Rep. John Linder, R-Duluth, said he was also excited about the achievement.

"As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season envelop our minds, a new day dawns in a distant desert. For the third time this year, the Iraqi people head to the election booth and cast a vote for their future. Just as our forefathers did over 200 years ago, the Iraqi people begin a new chapter in the book of democracy," Linder said.

"Clarence Darrow once said, 'You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man's freedom.' Repeatedly, Americans have fought for and defended the gifts of liberty and freedom, defeating the evils of despotism and tyranny and often paying the highest of prices, the lives of American men and women. Yet through such great loss and sacrifice, one fact is undeniable: the basic rights of self-determination and freedom must be preserved for the good of all mankind.

"As Americans, we sometimes take for granted the simple freedoms we exercise each day such as driving our children to school, buying our groceries or praying to our maker whenever we choose. For the people of Iraq, the opportunity to make these same decisions means the freedoms for which America has fought are finding a path to their doorsteps.

"Like our forefathers, the people of Iraq are seeing the dawn of a new day, a new country and a future no longer barren and desolate. For far too long the curtain of tyranny has enveloped this former Islamic Empire and constrained its people through repressive leadership. After being held captive in the shadows of oppression for over 50 years, thousands of Iraqi citizens today rip down the curtain of tyranny, dip their fingers in the promised purple ink and make another mark for Iraqi freedom in the book of democracy."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@