Denise Majette

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Denise Majette
Majette-denise.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 4th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Cynthia McKinney
Succeeded by Cynthia McKinney
Personal details
Born (1955-05-18) May 18, 1955 (age 59)
Brooklyn, New York
Political party Democratic

Denise L. Majette (born May 18, 1955) is an American politician from the state of Georgia. A Democrat, she represented Georgia's 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2003 to 2005.

Biography[edit]

Born in Brooklyn, she attended Yale University and completed a Juris Doctor degree at Duke University in 1979. She began her legal career in North Carolina as a Legal Aid staff attorney and a clinical adjunct law professor at Wake Forest University. A resident of the Atlanta suburb of Stone Mountain since 1983, Majette worked in private law practice before being named an administrative law judge at the Georgia state board of workers' compensation in 1992. The following year, Georgia Governor Zell Miller appointed her judge of the State Court of DeKalb County. Majette held the judgeship for nine years.[1]

She resigned from the judgeship in 2002 to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Georgia's 4th congressional district, which is based in DeKalb County. In a major upset, she defeated 10-year incumbent Cynthia McKinney in the Democratic primary. McKinney had attracted controversy due to her comments after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and her reported backing by Muslim-American groups which she had said was racial profiling. The primary was also influenced by crossover-Republicans, i.e. Republicans who used their ability to vote in a Democratic caucus in Georgia. Majette, who had never run in a partisan contest before, trounced the seemingly entrenched McKinney by a 58% to 42% margin. Majette's upset win was tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district.

In Congress, Majette's voting record was slightly more moderate than that of McKinney. Nonetheless, she is considered fairly liberal by national Democratic standards. Among other issues, she supports affirmative action, abortion rights, and legal status for illegal immigrants working in the U.S., while she opposes school vouchers and the death penalty.[2]

Runs for higher office and later career[edit]

Majette would have likely been able to keep her congressional seat for as long as she wanted, given the 4th's heavy Democratic tilt (only the neighboring Atlanta-based 5th is considered more Democratic). However, after only one term, she decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Zell Miller, who had been appointed to the seat in 2000 following the death of Republican Paul Coverdell. Miller's decision not to seek a full term in the Senate had caught the Georgia Democrats by surprise. Majette's announcement that she would seek to replace Miller also caught Democrats by surprise, as she was not on anyone's call list when Democrats began seeking a candidate to replace Miller. Further skepticism among Democrats about the viability of her candidacy surfaced when she announced that "God" had told her to run for the Senate.

Majette finished first in the Democratic primary but was forced into a runoff against millionaire businessman Cliff Oxford, which she won. She received important endorsements from Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, along with many others in Washington who campaigned and raised money for Majette. Her Senate campaign slogan was "I'll be nobody's Senator, but yours." Majette was the first African American and the first woman to be nominated for the U.S. Senate in Georgia.

In the general election, despite her vigorous attacks against her Republican opponent, 6th District Congressman Johnny Isakson, Majette was soundly defeated, losing by 18 points.

A number of factors led to the severe defeat. Majette was badly under financed and had to spend valuable time and money in the runoff. In contrast, Isakson had won the Republican nomination by an unexpectedly large margin. Due to her late entry in the race, she had little time or chance to make up ground on Isakson. A proposed amendment to the Georgia Constitution banning same-sex marriages (which Majette opposed) boosted Republican turnout significantly; it not only passed by a wide margin statewide, but carried in every county, even DeKalb. She got little help from the top of the ticket; John Kerry had effectively ceded Georgia to George W. Bush early in the presidential campaign.

McKinney regained her seat in the 2004 election. While McKinney had made no secret that she wanted her old seat back, it is not known whether Majette's decision to run for the Senate was related to a possible rematch against McKinney.

Soon after leaving the House, Majette entered private law practice in Atlanta. In March 2006, Majette announced her candidacy for state School Superintendent of Georgia. She defeated substitute teacher Carlotta Harrell in the primary, garnering 67% of the vote. In the general election, however, Majette lost to Republican incumbent Kathy Cox by a large margin.

On March 28, 2014, the Georgia Supreme Court disbarred Majette, finding she overbilled clients and misled the Court about how much she was owed in fees.[3]

Electoral history[edit]

Congressional photo of Denise Majette.
Georgia's 4th congressional district: 2002 results[4]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2002 Denise L. Majette 118,045 77% Cynthia Van Auken 35,202 23%
Georgia Senator (Class III): 2004 results[4]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2004 Denise L. Majette 1,287,690 40% Johnny Isakson 1,864,202 58% Allen Buckley Libertarian 69,051 2% *
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2004, write-ins received 31 votes and Matthew Jamison received 7 votes.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.blackpast.org/aah/majette-denise-l-1955#sthash.dFSZa625.dpuf
  2. ^ On the Issues: Denise Majette
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Cynthia McKinney
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 4th congressional district

January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2005
Succeeded by
Cynthia McKinney
Party political offices
Preceded by
Zell Miller
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Georgia (Class 3)
2004
Succeeded by
Mike Thurmond