Rep. Hank Johnson (D)
Elected: 2006, 2nd term.
Born: Oct. 2, 1954, Washington, D.C. .
Education: Clark Atlanta U., B.A. 1976, Texas S. U., J.D. 1979.
Family: Married (Mereda Davis); 2 children.
Elected office: DeKalb Cnty. comm., 2001-06.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1980-2006; Associate judge, DeKalb Cnty. Magistrate Court, 1989-2006.
The congressman from the 4th District is Hank Johnson, a Democrat who won the seat in 2006. He was born in Washington, D.C., where his father was director of classifications and paroles for the Bureau of Prisons and his mother was a schoolteacher. He practiced law as a civil and criminal litigator, served 12 years as a magistrate judge in DeKalb County and then five years on the DeKalb County Commission. He resigned from the commission to run for Congress. Although his immediate family members are Presbyterians, he has been a Buddhist since the 1970s; he and Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, are the first practicing Buddhists in Congress.
|Hank Johnson (D)||224,494||(100%)||($381,100)|
|Hank Johnson (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (75%)
Johnson ousted Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney in the primary. McKinney had served five terms in the House before losing her seat to Denise Majette in the 2002 Democratic primary. But she won it back two years later, after Majette decided to run for the Senate. She was a controversial incumbent, once suggesting that President Bush might have had prior knowledge of the September 11 terrorist attacks but did not act on it because a war on terrorism would boost defense stocks held by his father’s friends. In 2006, McKinney drew criticism even from within her own party after an altercation with a Capitol Police officer who stopped her at a security checkpoint. Then Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “I find it hard to see any set of facts that would justify striking a police officer.” McKinney apologized on the House floor a week later, but the damage was done. Until that incident, McKinney looked to be beating Johnson for the nomination
In the July 18 primary, McKinney did lead Johnson, 47%-44%, but her failure to break the 50% threshold in the three-candidate field forced a runoff three weeks later between the top two vote-getters. Johnson gained additional momentum after the primary. His fundraising, which had been anemic, suddenly picked up, as donors from both parties, including former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes, weighed in against McKinney. She responded by criticizing Johnson’s past financial troubles, which included declaring bankruptcy in the late 1980s. But in the runoff, turnout was up and Johnson beat McKinney easily, 59%-41%. He carried all three counties, winning 57%-43% in McKinney’s stronghold of DeKalb. McKinney was a victim not only of her only mishaps, but also of the changing political and cultural demographics in DeKalb. Johnson breezed to victory in the general election against minor opposition.
In the House, Johnson has established a solidly liberal voting record and a reputation as a thoughtful lawmaker. On the Judiciary Committee, he questioned political hirings and firings at the Justice Department during the Bush administration and sponsored a resolution calling for the impeachment of Vice President Cheney. He also called for an investigation of the use of water boarding, a form of coercion that simulates drowning and had been used on suspected terrorists. He backed relief for people facing housing foreclosures and sought protections against predatory lending. In 2009, he became chairman of the revamped Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy, and he took a step in the direction of getting on a leadership track by joining the House Democratic whip organization in 2009.
Johnson won re-election without major party opposition, the first such outcome in 52 years in the 4th District. McKinney considered a rematch with Johnson, but then decided to run for president as the nominee of the Green Party.