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Baxter: Georgians voted for moderation

Editor's Note: CNN Access is a regular feature on providing interviews with newsmakers from around the world.

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Two of the most outspoken and controversial members of the U.S. House of Representatives were defeated Tuesday in Georgia's primary election.

Republican Rep. Bob Barr was beaten by veteran Congressman John Linder after redistricting forced them into the same district.

Democrat Cynthia McKinney, who had served five terms, was ousted by former state court judge Denise Majette.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution political editor Tom Baxter discussed the high-profile races Wednesday with CNN's Judy Woodruff.

CNN: How do you explain the results in the Barr-Linder race?

BAXTER: Well, you know, John Linder had polls throughout this campaign that showed that he was just stylistically the clear choice of the voters in this district. This district's a little bit more upscale, a little bit more urban than the one that Barr had represented.

Turned out Linder was right. It clearly in Gwinnett County, the biggest county, the one that mattered, he won by a 3-1 margin and I think it was a matter of the style of the two candidates. It's a Republican conservative county, but they just like that low-key Linder style more.

CNN: Let me ask you about the McKinney Majette race. We heard Cynthia McKinney basically saying the Democrats didn't want to keep me or the Republicans wanted to beat me more than the Democrats wanted to keep me. Was it the Republican crossovers that made the difference there?

BAXTER: You know, as you can imagine, there are a lot of us who want to get our hands on those precinct returns and examine them a little bit more carefully. Clearly the Republican crossover helped Majette. But I think you also just have to look at the fact that McKinney didn't really invigorate her voters. She got no more votes than she had gotten in the previous elections.

And there are a lot of people who felt they had a reason to come out and vote against her this year, independent, Democrat and Republican.

CNN: Tom Baxter, what about the comment that her father made. He's a well known Georgia state representative, Billy McKinney. Just a few days ago, he was quoted as saying his daughter was in a tough fight because of, and he spelled it out, J-E-W-S, Jews. To what extent was that a factor in this race?

BAXTER: I think that particular comment, actually came kind of late, came yesterday, if I'm not mistaken. But over the weekend Louis Farrakhan came into the district and campaigned for McKinney and I think that clearly was one of the deciding factors in this race, one of the things that caused such a solid victory for Majette.

WOODRUFF: You're saying it hurt McKinney.

BAXTER: Certainly it hurt McKinney, not only among white voters but I think among middle class, more upscale black voters who were just uncomfortable with that type of politics.

WOODRUFF: Some people are going to look at both of these campaigns and say, here were two polarizing outspoken candidates, one on the right, one on the left. Do you think there is a broader message here for candidates across the country this year?

BAXTER: Certainly I do, Judy. These two districts are side by side, and we had some cases where precincts that were next to each other, you'd have a majority of people voting Republican, picking up the Republican ballot to vote for Linder in one precinct and the next precinct over, a majority were picking up the Democratic ballot to vote for Majette. It was a vote for moderation, no matter which party.




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