US Rep. Lewis Supports Lieberman but not McKinney


(APN) ATLANTA – US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) is not supporting his progressive colleague in Congress for reelection, US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), or her challenger, Mr. Hank Johnson. However, Rep. Lewis is supporting the hawkish centrist, US Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

McKinney is in a suspenseful Runoff Election with Mr. Johnson, a quiet, more conservative Democrat with Republican ties. While Johnson does not have much of a specific issues platform to speak of, he and Sen. Lieberman clearly have something in common: they both openly pride themselves on working “across the aisle” with Republicans.

Lewis called Johnson a friend and they took photographs together at Manuel’s Tavern’s 50th Anniversary Party, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said.

Congresswoman McKinney did not attend the Manuel’s event because she and about 50 supporters were working with citizen advocates to demand a return to paper ballots at the Clarkston City Council Meeting, activist Phyllis Huster told Atlanta Progressive News.

But speaking of friends, Rep. Lewis also called Joe Lieberman a friend of his recently as well, the Associated Press reported.

However, this shouldn’t be misread, Rep. Lewis’s spokesperson, Brenda Jones, told Atlanta Progressive News in a lengthy phone interview. Rep. Lewis has surely also referred to Rep. McKinney as a friend as well, Jones said.

The thing is, though, Lewis and McKinney, on the legislative issues, are like the two true-blue progressives in Georgia’s Congressional delegation.

When there’s a progressive bill in US Congress, you can bet Lewis and McKinney are already listed as cosponsors. While occasionally, Georgia’s Democratic US Reps. David Scott and Sanford Bishop join in supporting items consistent with a progressive agenda, it is Lewis and McKinney who seem to have the most in common legislatively.

Rep. Lewis’s Office is not disputing Atlanta Progressive News’s assessment of the similarities in legislative platforms between Lewis and McKinney.

Still, Lewis’s act of declining to endorse McKinney, while he has endorsed Mr. Lieberman, raises a lot of questions.

When Rep. Lewis was in Connecticut recently, he announced that Lieberman has his support “no matter what happens in the Primary,” the Associated Press said. “I stick with my friends,” he was reported to have said.

Lieberman is so in danger of losing his seat to a more progressive Ned Lamont in the Democratic Primary there, that he has already laid the groundwork to run as an Independent in the state’s General Election.

So, essentially, Lewis has agreed to “stick with” Lieberman even if the Democratic voters of Connecticut choose Ned Lamont as their candidate, the Associated Press reports.

Lieberman has been criticized for his enablement of the Bush Administration on NSA domestic wiretapping and the US Invasion of Iraq. Lieberman lost the endorsement of the New York Times last week for asserting Americans should not question Bush during a time of “war.”

Rep. Lewis did not go to Connecticut for the sole purpose of supporting Lieberman, Jones said.

Lewis had gone to share his experiences and views from the Civil Rights Movement, in the context of advocating in churches against a recent outbreak of youth violence in Hartford, Connecticut, Jones said. While there, he was asked to speak on behalf of Lieberman and did so.

Moreover, there is a difference between endorsing a candidate in one’s own state and endorsing one in another state such as Connecticut, Jones said.

Also, to her knowledge, Congressman Lewis has not endorsed any Georgia Congressional candidates in recent years, although he is asked to do so all the time, Jones said.

However, Marshall Wittmann, a political analyst at the DLC, told the Hartford Courant Newspaper he believes it will help Lieberman to have the backing of John Lewis. Indeed, Rep. Lewis is a nationally renowned figure, especially due to his role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Rep. Lewis has parted ways with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Lieberman, the Hartford Courant said. US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), for instance, has endorsed Ned Lamont instead of Lieberman.

Many Caucus members are supporting McKinney as well.

Back in Georgia, John Lewis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is declining to endorse either US Rep. McKinney or Hank Johnson.

Rep. Lewis has a lot of sway in Georgia and does not want to interfere with the voters of Georgia’s 4th Congressional District being able to decide for themselves, Brenda Jones told Atlanta Progressive News.

This does not seem consistent with his actions in Connecticut, however. In Connecticut, Lewis has not only supported a candidate there, he has reportedly indicated he will also support Lieberman even if the Democratic voters of that state overwhelmingly choose Mr. Lamont and if Lieberman has to run as an Independent.

The Run-off race is different than a Primary, Jones said; however, Lewis apparently declined to endorse McKinney in the Primary as well.

And there’s still a possibility that Rep. Lewis might choose to support either candidate in the Run-off. “I haven’t decided what I’ll do,” Rep. Lewis said at the Manuel’s Party, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor and National Correspondent for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at

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