Saturday, August 09, 2014

Post-election observations - 9th District

We still need to see precinct breakdowns, of course, but there are a few things I want to say about this race, and how we view our Congressman.

First, to Ricky Wilkins:  For someone who has never campaigned for office for himself before, you did a damned fine job.  Your campaign clearly was the toughest one that Steve Cohen has faced since he was initially elected in 2006.  Sure, there were mistakes, but for a rookie campaign, you have nothing to be ashamed of, and Cohen himself saluted your efforts during his victory speech, something I don't remember him doing before.

However, even with all of that, you just got a third of the vote.  What does that mean?  It means that, for all of the campaigning you did, two-thirds of the Democratic electorate of the 9th Congressional District is satisfied with the representation that they have received from the incumbent.

Unless the Tea Party is involved in a GOP District, it's damn near impossible to unseat an incumbent Congressman unless that person has been indicted or committed some kind of epic faux pas.  That is to say that, as things stand today, only Steve Cohen can really beat Steve Cohen.

Unless he does something really over the top, Steve Cohen is going to continue to be renominated and re-elected to this seat.  That is something you may want to think about.

To your credit, Mr. Wilkins, you did everything possible to avoid the suggestion that you were running because the 9th District needed a Black Congressman to serve a primarily-Black District.  Some of your supporters, sadly, didn't get the message, and it is they whom I will address next.

I will make this short and sweet: You are no more entitled to a Black Congressman than I am a white Congressman.  Any suggestion to the contrary is as racist as anything the Klan has ever said.  It, and always SHOULD be, about POLICY and CONSTITUENT SERVICE.  I loved Harold Ford Senior and defended him to other people for years.  His son?  Not so much, Junior threw his constituents under the bus with the Bankruptcy Bill in order to raise money for his Senate run.  (I will be angry at him for that as long as I draw a breath.)  Do they do their job?  If the answer is YES, keep them.  NO, get rid of them.

If you are angry that the 9th District does not have a Black Congressman, why don't you go and ask the Black Democrats of the district, the majority of whom voted resoundingly to re-nominate Steve Cohen?  All of the petty insider bullshit that we argue about doesn't matter a damn to them, they just want to know that he is there for them, and he has been.  THAT, more than any other reason, is why he wins.

That is something beyond the control of Mr. Wilkins or any of Cohen's prior opponents, and it's why he wins every time, and will continue to do so as long as he keeps doing what he is doing.

Now, to my friend of over 30 years and my Congressman, I want to talk to you as well.  First, good work by you, John Marek, Stephanie Dunavant, Rick Maynard, Dabney Ring and the rest of your team.   You need to go get some rest for a week or so, we all know this was a tough race.

When you get back, lots of us need to sit down with you and talk about the state of the Shelby County Democratic Party.  No, you are not the "boss", and I agree that is not what you or the SCDP needs.  As the highest-ranking Democratic elected official in this County, we need your guidance and your input to help us turn this thing around, which won't happen overnight.  You also need to bring some of that talented staff with you, as they have learned greatly from your tutelage.

This needs to be a table where all feel welcome, regardless of whether they are from South Memphis or Southwind, Brunswick or Smokey City.  Only with a dialogue from all parties can we begin to heal and point forward toward future victories.


Michael said...

Nice a point. You said what Cohen needed to say, but won't.

Then I got down to this:

"I will make this short and sweet: You are no more entitled to a Black Congressman than I am a white Congressman. Any suggestion to the contrary is as racist as anything the Klan has ever said."




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