<bt>As election day draws nearer, U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11th) has started pounding his Democratic challenger, Ken Longmyer, for a position Longmyer occupied eight years ago in the office of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D).
At forums and debates throughout the district, Davis has said that Longmyer is tainted by his association with McKinney, a political lightning rod who sparked controversy over her support of Palestine and for suggesting two years ago on a Berkeley, Calif. radio station that President George W. Bush (R) may have had advance warning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"I think Cynthia McKinney is well to the left of the American mainstream, and I think that's where [Longmyer's] politics are," said Davis, noting that Longmyer is "not just a liberal but basically a far-out liberal."
Democrats are crying foul, saying that Davis is dredging up an old job to avoid talking about issues of concern to 11th District voters.
"This is guilt by association," said Longmyer. "This is the worse sort of McCarthyism I've heard in a long time."
Davis, he added, has worked closely with Republican leaders such as Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay, who was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee last week for his involvement in a Texas political action committee.
Davis said he always tries to work with the House leadership.
"I'm going to work with whoever the voters choose," he said, noting that he also has cooperated with Democrats such as D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), ranking member of the House Government Reform Committee, which Davis chairs.
"Tom really shouldn't be bringing this up. Go to the issues, don't go to personal attacks like that," said Emilie Miller, chairman of the 11th District Democratic Committee. "It's very diversionary."
"I'm debating the guy six or seven times," countered Davis. "Tell me how many incumbents around the country are doing that. That's hardly avoiding the issues."
McKinney lost her seat in a 2002 Democratic primary but is favored to win her seat back this year.
LONGMYER SAID he worked for McKinney for six months in 1996 "considerably before she became the controversial person she became."
At the time, he said, he had retired from a career in the Foreign Service and was working at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on a Pearson Fellowship, which places foreign service officers in think tanks and political offices in the United States.
When one of his colleagues who was working for McKinney left to take another Foreign Service post, Longmyer took over.
"I was the old guy in the office. I supervised the young kids."
He said he worked for McKinney until then-President Bill Clinton appointed him as an advisor for Bosnian peace implementation.
"This is long before she made those outrageous remarks," he said. "I'm not trying to defend her. For the record, I never heard McKinney make an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel remark that entire summer."
"I think she is [anti-Semitic]," Davis said. "Whether he is or not, he worked for her."
Davis also said the Democratic Party in Northern Virginia has moved in a "pro-Palestinian" direction, as opposed to his own position of being a "strong supporter of Israel."
"And that's OK, we can have a debate about this."
WHEN LONGMYER was seeking the nomination, he didn't mention his job with McKinney in his first interview. In his second interview, he said, he told the committee about the job after he was asked about it.
"I've held jobs for 30, 35 years," he said. "There are many jobs I didn't list in full detail. ... I don't consider that duplicitous. How could I conceal it? It's a matter of public record."
Miller said the committee nominated him unanimously after the first person they nominated, Ron Christian, an ordained minister and affordable housing advocate who ran for State Senate last year, dropped out.
"Of my committee members, there was only one who really had any reservations," she said.