If one were designing a video game about Congressional elections, the career of Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) would represent a good template for a campaign mode. Representing a majority-Black, heavily Democratic area of Memphis, Cohen got elected to Congress in 2006 by emerging from a badly split Democratic primary field. In 2008, Cohen didn't have the luxury of a split field, but soundly trounced corporate attorney Nikki Tinker who tried to race- and religion-bait her way to victory. Now, his 2010 match-up is another step-up in competition, facing long-time Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.
This NYT profile makes it sound like Herenton is basically trying to make the campaign about race. It didn't work for Tinker at all, but Herenton is far higher profile than Tinker ever was. Still, Cohen has had time to entrench himself and appears to have engendered some loyalty amongst his constituents -- Black and White. I'm optimistic about his chances. Though an intervention by Barack Obama in favor of one of the most progressive members of the Democratic caucus would be, I think, both politically wise and greatly appreciated by Rep. Cohen.