Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some notes on TN-09

I arrived after the speechifying yesterday at Congressman Cohen's headquarters opening, so I missed him calling the Doc a Coward, but I don't think it was a bad thing; why should a former Golden Gloves champion be scared of two old reporters?

At the end of the day, it's just that the former Mayor is trying to control his media coverage as he did when he was in City Hall; however, as he has no real power any more, it becomes nothing more than an attempt to get free media, since he can't seem to raise much money on his own.

In fact, if I were to sum up the Doc's campaign in three letters, it would be WTF?

There are ways to campaign against Steve Cohen that might work, but it doesn't seem that the Doc is planning on trying any of them.  By trying to race-bait Cohen, one could almost suggest that if the races were reversed, Herenton is running like an old segregationist from the late 50s and early 60s.

On the merits, Cohen is essentially unassailable from a Democratic and progressive standpoint; one could argue that only Harold Ford Senior has done as much for the African-American community in terms of 9th District Congressmen.

The real question here is this:  Why is the Doc running?  What does he have to prove?  He has never lost an election, to be sure, but remember two things here: 1) he has NEVER run in a party primary before and 2) his elections have always been in October or November.

Let's look at that latter part in particular.  The African-American community has never voted as heavily in August primaries as they have in October or November general elections. This fact is a major reason the GOP has continued to dominate County offices, whose elections are held with the state & federal primaries in August.  I have a solution for that, if anyone is willing to listen.

The Doc is also running for a LEGISLATIVE position, when he has spent the majority of his professional career as an administrator.  In this area, whenever legislators run for executive positions or vice versa, they have not been successful.  In the first instance, only Wyeth Chandler (1971) and Jim Rout (1994) come to mind.

Only LAMAR! Alexander has done what Doc is attempting to do, and that was after a several-year gap between his governorship and his race for the US Senate.  In short, it's hard to imagine a 70-year-old freshman Congressman, especially someone like Doc, who is expected to sit down and do as he is told, which is the rule for all freshmen.

So, why is he running?  Is he bored? Is he doing this to get back at Cohen for some imagined slight?  At the end of the day, he risks destroying what is left of his legacy, with real Nixon-in-62 potential here.  Considering that, to give the man full credit, his first two terms were arguably the best of any Mayor of Memphis in my 38 years here, this is remarkably sad.

Why, Doc?  This really just doesn't make sense to anyone, and it will only hurt you in the end.


Vvixen said...

Someone with much more political saavy than I have says Willie is just running in order to retire after one term with a federal pension. Indeed, wouldn't a federal pension and guaranteed benefits for life be nice for anyone in this uncertain world?

Wintermute said...

"it doesn't seem that the Doc is panning on trying any of them"

Steve Steffens said...

Heh, that's why I need a proofreader, it's fixed now, thanks!

Alex said...

I thought you had to have 5 years of Congressional service before you qualified for the lifetime benefits?

Richard Thompson said...

LWC. Hope all is well.

Cohen isn't unassailable. There are tough questions to pose to him since he has essentially tied himself to President Obama's policies and he hopes that a district that voted overwhelmingly for Obama isn't going to start questioning that. But what if they do?

The reality is that candidates tend to treat African American voters like sheep and, to an extent, the community has been an enabler. That doesn't mean that it should continue. But I digress.

It's a stretch to compare WWH to an old-time segregationist. His argument about racial diversity in TN congressional representation has merit but there are underlying stereotypical assumptions in your assessment of it.

I'm just sayin, there's nothing wrong with a predominantly- African American electorate choosing representation that seems to go against the grain just like there's nothing wrong with that same body of voters choosing representation that seems more natural based on history. It's just like our flipping back and forth between Republicans and Democrats. It's not race-baiting. It's simply politics. Thanks.