That's right, the 9th District of Tennessee is a majority black, majority Christian district. Gay rights are unpopular here, and a politician who wants to stay on everyone's good side should be vague about abortion. These are the rules to play by in Memphis. That is, if you want to lose. Thursday the voters of the 9th District told the political establishment that they cared more about integrity and a record of service in ares that impact their lives more than they cared about racial pandering, religious bigotry, wedge issues, and expensive campaigns. Steve Cohen, a white, Jewish progressive known for his high ethical standards and willingness to vote his conscience despite the political ramifications was elected to be the Democratic nominee in the 75% Democratic 9th District. Cohen defeated a field of candidates large enough to field a football team trouncing most of the candidates by double digits and defeating his nearest rival, corporate lawyer Nikki Tinker, by 6% despite being outspent 2-1 officially while another $200,000+ was put into the race in the form of attack mailings aimed at Cohen in support of Tinker by the Washington, DC based group Emily's List. Emily's List, a PAC supporting pro-choice, female Democrats enjoyed a sizable group of supporters in Memphis, but no longer. The group's interference in a primary election, their negative tactics, and their blatant sexism have generated a massive backlash in Tennessee.
Cohen's strategy was simple and admirable. Throughout the race opponents used race baiting and religious bigotry against him. He refused to play. When his record was attacked, he responded by simply correcting the factual errors and condemning negative campaign tactics across the board. In practice Cohen used the single most effective tools in politics. His TV commercials were a litany of endorsements from community leaders. His field campaign was agressive. Utilizing a veritable army of student interns and volunteers Cohen's campaign contacted thousands of voters creating a database of supporters who were then contacted again during early voting and on election day. In the end the honesty of Cohen's message and the tireless work of the field team paid off. Cohen won by approximately 4,300 votes. Every single person invovled with Cohen's campaign deserves congratulations. You can send mine written on the back of $100 bills.