Opinion: Cynthia McKinney favored for the Green Party’s presidential nod


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This weekend, just a few minutes from where Barack Obama lives, a new challenger will emerge to his White House bid (as well as John McCain’s).

The Green Party -- which with Ralph Nader as its standard-bearer played a major role in the 2000 election (and then, with little-known David Cobb as its candidate, had virtually no impact on the 2004 vote) -- opened its national convention today at the ornate Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago. On Saturday afternoon, it will choose its nominee for this year’s presidential race (with the acceptance speech to follow).

The odds-on favorite to claim the nod is Cynthia McKinney, who represented a Georgia House district for five terms, surprisingly got knocked off in the 2002 primary, reclaimed the seat in 2004 and then lost the primary two years later -- in part because of the furor over a scuffle she had with a Capitol policeman.


If she triumphs in the delegate balloting over three rivals, McKinney would be the first black and the first woman picked for president by the Greens. That’s not quite as impressive as what Obama is in line to achieve and what Hillary Clinton came close to -- the party, dedicated to environmentalism and nonviolence, only began running a national ticket in 1996 (with Nader heading it).

In his consequential 2000 showing, Nader won almost 2.9 million votes nationwide and -- Democrats forever will be convinced -- cost Al Gore the White House by siphoning enough support to keep him from carrying Florida and New Hampshire (carrying with one would have won Gore the presidency).

Cobb won all of 119,859 votes four years ago ... and did not affect the outcome in a single state.

Given that McKinney has a degree of national name recognition, she ought to be able to surpass Cobb’s total vote. But as of now, it’s hard to imagine she’ll sway the outcome in a particular state.

-- Don Frederick