Friday, June 26, 2009

Cohen Draws Another Challenge

Five-term Memphis mayor Willie W. Herenton has announced he is resigning in order to challenge progressive lion Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) in the Democratic primary for the 9th Tennessee Congressional seat. After some fretting by yours truly, Rep. Cohen handily turned back a challenge last cycle by Nikki Tinker in a campaign marred by race-baiting and anti-Semitism. But while Herenton's popularity has been flagging of late, he is still a far more credible and dangerous opponent than Tinker ever was. I haven't seen any indicator that Cohen is disliked in his district, but this cycle will be probably his best chance to demonstrate whether he's truly entrenched himself or not.


Superdestroyer said...

You should at least mention that Mr. Herenton is black and is running against one of two white congressmen who represent majority black districts. Rep. Cohen is a test for the future of whether majority black districts will vote for liberal white Democrats instead of automatically voting for other blacks. After Rep. Cohen deafeated Ms. Tinker in the Democratic primary (after sponsoring a blatant pander of a slavary apology bill). Most people thought he was safe. Now he get another black politician and one would have to wonder if every up and coming black politician in the Memphis area will give it a try since Rep. Cohen has reached the top of his political ladder.

David Schraub said...

I mentioned the Black/White dynamic ad nauseum when Tinker was running against Cohen. Tinker ran a racially charged campaign, and got utterly thrashed by Cohen, losing by 60 points. That, to me, shows definitively that the electorate of the district won't automatically vote for other Blacks. They already proved themselves rather definitively.

Superdestroyer said...

Tinker had lost in the five way race in 2006 and was a known quantity. HOoever, if a Congressman wins and is re-elected once, they can usually count of never facing a real opponent against. That a serious candidate is coming around again means that many blacks in Memphis see Cohen as weak.

Since Cohen as no reasonable chance of ever being a Senator or Governor, he has reached as far as his political career can go. Rep. Cohen had to have been hoping that he would never ace a serious opponent again. Yet, a white candidate in a majority black district will probably have to plan to always have an opponent because there is no other way for them to move up to higher office.

Also, the district shows the future of politics in the U.S. where the Democratic Primary is the real election and is might be easier to unseat a white incumbent in a Democratic primary held in a majority black district.

Also, as the district becomes less white, it may be easier for a black to win the future. Remember, demographics are working against the rich white guys winning many elections.

David Schraub said...

Tinker lost in a two-way race in 2008, and I doubt she was more "known" than the five term mayor of Memphis who also is looking for a way to move up in politics.