Tag Archives: Steve Cohen

Democrats unite behind Paul Smith at fundraiser

Even though some of the local Democratic Party faithful expressed their displeasure with Chairman Paul Smith by refusing to attend, the Choo Choo Imperial Ballroom was fairly filled with cheering supporters on Wednesday at the party’s annual Kefauver Dinner. Organizers said the event was sold-out.

Smith and his longtime friend, former Senate Majority Leader Ward Crutchfield, each received several ovations from the crowd at the urging of speakers ranging from Sen. Beverly Marrero of Memphis to Crutchfield’s daughter Missy, who heads the Chattanooga Department of Education, Arts & Culture, and who emceed the event.

The majority of those in attendance seemed willing to forgive and forget the elder Crutchfield’s 2005 arrest and 2007 conviction on federal bribery charges, though some were seen keeping their seats while the rest stood.

A few party stalwarts privately hinted that Smith may face a leadership challenge at the next re-organization meeting (to take place in Spring 2013), even as they asserted that the current rift is more personal than political. One member expressed a desire to see younger people move into party leadership, but said that the fundraiser is a time to emphasize party unity, adding that the re-organization will be the time to “air the dirty laundry.”

Missy Crutchfield used some of her time at the lectern to rather openly lobby mayoral candidate Sen. Andy Berke to continue the department she administers, which was created in 2005 by current Mayor Ron Littlefield, should he win the March 2013 election. (She also alluded to a common perception that Berke is a shoo-in by referring to the election as a “coronation.”)

D. Bruce Shine, a Kingsport attorney and former staffer for Estes Kefauver, gave a biographical sketch of the Tennessee Congressman, U.S. Senator, and vice presidential candidate. Other speakers included Rev. Kenneth Love, Rep. JoAnne Favors, Sen. Beverly Marrero, and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen. Collectively they extolled the virtues of organized labor and excoriated Republican-led legislative changes such as the requirement for voters to show photo identification at the polling place.

Candidates in the November election were recognized on the podium: Favors, Frank Eaton, Dr. Mary Headrick, Jim Lewis, Andraé McGary, and Sandy Norris Smith all were declared “winners” by Love. Following their recognition, candidates in the 2013 municipal election were invited to stand.

The annual Kefauver award, chosen by the party chair, was presented to Sandy Lusk, Missy Crutchfield, Jane Bowen-Forsythe, and Roger Graham.

Full disclosure: I was not able to stay through the entire event, and therefore missed the keynote speech by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis). Times Free Press reporter Shelly Bradbury covered it through its conclusion.

Quick updates

What do you know? They’re acting like they’re having an actual congressional race in the 9th District Memphis. (HT: @Kontji)

The Green Party often attracts self-described progressive Democrats. And about as often, it seems, they return whence they came. (HT: NPP)

Blogging is dead. Long live blogging! There is a new conservative voice on the scene, subtitled “Political Commentary from Fly-Over Country.” Oscar Brock is a Republican State Executive Committee member and served as former party chair Robin Smith’s congressional campaign treasurer in 2010. He is also a regional coordinator for the Romney/Ryan campaign.

Will the joke that keeps on giving, start taking away? Opinions vary on how offensive the joke actually is, but most agree that it was a stupid move on Paul Smith’s part to include it on an official meeting agenda. The Chattanooga Times editorial page is as incredulous as I am about any connection between printing the joke and comments made previously by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin about rape. What??

The list of candidates for Chattanooga City Council keeps growing. It’s still very quiet over here in my part of town, though.

Deuce of Harts

Out in the West Tennessee wilds, two challengers are tackling the long-odds task of unseating two different incumbent congressmen, and these challengers share a last name—though likely not a whole lot else.

James L. Hart: well, certainly you remember him. Back when the Eighth District was represented by a Democrat (John Tanner), Hart would try to run as a Republican every cycle. In 2004, he successfully captured the nomination. He has been barred by the Tennessee Republican Party from running on the GOP ticket ever since; and this time, he is running as an independent candidate. Hart holds views on race that are quite controversial, to say the least. He is running against U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher.

Tomeka Hart: Ms. Hart is a Memphis City School Board member and president of the Memphis Urban League. The city school system is in a state of transition towards merging with the county system, following a charter surrender drive that Ms. Hart supported. She is running against U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen in the Ninth District Democratic primary. In each election cycle since Cohen took office, he has had primary opposition from at least one African-American candidate: Nikki Tinker in 2008, former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton in 2010, and now Tomeka Hart. The latter so far hasn’t made overt references to Cohen’s race or religion, both of which have been brought up in past elections.

The voter guide has been updated to include these candidates.

The Tenn. eleven, two by two

I have created a page that lists the whole congressional delegation for the 112th Congress, which begins in January. The information listed with each member will be enhanced to include, among other things, campaign finance disclosures, voting records, and full contact info. (Right now I have websites and social media addresses, so you can probably get there from here.) Your suggestions are welcome for what else would be useful information to include.

As I was putting the info together, I noticed that there were often two current or incoming members who shared a particular attribute. Here are a few of those pairings:

  • Two women. Congressman Marsha Blackburn (District 7) will no longer be the lone female, as she will be joined by Diane Black (District 6). Does anyone know if Sen. Black will also go by “Congressman”?
  • Two Democrats. In a sharp reversal of its former 5-4 majority in the U.S. House delegation, the Democratic Party now only boasts two members, one each from the largest urban centers in the state. (U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper, District 5; Steve Cohen, District 9)
  • Two musicians. I’m just looking at the House here, because of course U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is a fine pianist; but Cooper plays the banjo, and to-be freshman Stephen Fincher plays guitar and sings gospel.
  • Two “Steves.” The District 8 and District 9 neighbors are Fincher and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, respectively.
  • Two doctors. Dr. Phil Roe (District 1) will now be joined by Dr. Scott DesJarlais (District 4) in being able to answer “is there a doctor in the House?”
  • So close: two nurses. But it was not to be. Robin Smith, who narrowly lost the District 3 primary in August (and in winning would have been all but assured victory in the general) could have been paired with Black in this category.

There is also a trio: Black, Blackburn, and Cohen are all former state senators. (Black is still one, as of this writing.)

There is only one Lamar.

There is only one who was elected before 2002: U.S. Rep. John “Jimmy” Duncan, who was elected in 1988.

Herenton: Cohen tries ‘to act black’

The AP filed a story focused on the Democratic Party’s candidates in Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District. Former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, and is speaking out in favor of the majority African-American district electing a black congressman. Meanwhile, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have endorsed Cohen, as has President Barack Obama.

I don’t know whether or not Cohen tries “to act black,” but the Ninth District has seen a little racial cross-dressing by its representatives now and then. See photo.