Former U.S. representative to stump for candidate in Fort Mill

The political trail in York County is about to take an unusual turn.

Former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who made national headlines last year for scuffling with a Capitol Hill police officer, visits Fort Mill on Thursday as she weighs a run for the Green Party's presidential nomination.

McKinney will talk about her career in public life and stump for Town Council candidate Bryan Smith, who is trying to become the first Green Party member to win elected office in South Carolina. Three candidates are running for an at-large seat.

"It's kind of a mutual thing," said Smith, 46, a veterinary technician with the Humane Society in Charlotte. "She's not universally known, but she has been elected twice. The people within the Green Party especially will know her."

Local Green Party Chairman Gregg Jocoy has already endorsed McKinney's run, even though she hasn't announced it.

"We had Ralph Nader on our ballot line in 2000, and that brought us recruits and supporters who are with us to this day," Jocoy said in an announcement. "I know Cynthia McKinney will bring an entirely new and energized group of people to our side."

Jocoy said he expects a sizable crowd for the 6:30 p.m. event at Jerusalem Baptist Church. The Greens say they're hoping the visit helps to build a base of support for their cause.

Controversial politician

For McKinney, a run for president would mark the latest twist in her sometimes controversial political career. Among the memorable moments:

• She once accused Al Gore of having a "low Negro tolerance level."

• She questioned whether the Bush administration knew about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in advance.

• And last year, she got into an altercation with a police officer as she passed through a metal detector on Capitol Hill. She accused the officer of failing to recognize her because she is black.

McKinney was the first black woman elected to Georgia's state Legislature. She filed impeachment papers against President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as her last official act in Congress.