Rep. Cohen Wins Primary Despite Inappropriate Attacks

Jewish Rep. Steve Cohen—he of the House resolution condemning slavery and Jim Crow laws that we covered recently—has overcome his opponent Nikki Tinker and her advertising attacks to win the Democratic primary in Tennessee’s Ninth District. The district’s tiny Republican contingent means the primary victory guarantees him his seat.

What made the primary so contentious were two ads that Tinker ran in the days leading up to the vote. One attempts to connect Rep. Cohen to the KKK by describing how he voted against removing an antiquated park statue, followed by a “Who is the real Steve Cohen?” challenge.

The other ad, according to JTA, implies “that Cohen’s [Jewish] religion made him an outsider in the district”:

While Cohen visits “our churches, clapping his hands and tapping his feet,” the ad said, “he’s the only senator who thought our kids shouldn’t be allowed to pray in school”—a reference to a 1997 vote Cohen made as a state senator. The ad concluded with the phrase “Sometimes apologies just aren’t enough,”—a reference to a resolution apologizing for slavery, which Cohen sponsored in the U.S. House of Representatives.

(You can see a video of the latter by clicking here.)

Tinker’s ads received harsh criticism from the NJDC, who posted a statement on their blog, as well as Sen. Barack Obama, who said:

“These incendiary and personal attacks have no place in our politics,” Obama said in a statement, “and will do nothing to help the good people of Tennessee. It’s time to turn the page on a politics driven by negativity and division so that we can come together to lift up our communities and our country.

Benjamin Schuman-Stoler


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One response to “Rep. Cohen Wins Primary Despite Inappropriate Attacks

  1. I left Memphis years ago when there were four entrances to bathrooms at the Goldsmith Dept. Store: White Women, Colored Women, White Men, Colored Men. I have two reactions to Steve Cohen’s victory: (1) HALLELUJAH!!!Change has come to Memphis after 50 years. (2) It’s not surprising that not much has changed in Memphis after 50 years.

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