Cohen's District to Go Country?

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Steve Cohen, rural congressman? Could be, according to the current 9th District U.S. Representative, who was commenting on informal reports making the rounds concerning possible redistricting in Tennessee.

Cohen cited an article in the Nashville Tennessean concerning a rumored plan by the state’s majority Republicans to carve Davidson County, currently the base of the 5th congressional district, held by Democrat Jim Cooper, into three districts. And he said he had heard reports that his own 9th District, though still based in Memphis, would be extended eastward into Fayette and Hardeman counties to accommodate the eastward shift of Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn’s 7th congressional District.

“I could handle that district, but I’d prefer to keep the Memphis district intact,” said Cohen, who said the party-line ratios and black-white percentages would be similar in the rumored reconfiguration to what they are in the currently proportioned 9th District. Current Memphis City Schools board member and local Urban League head Tomeka Hart has said she will oppose Cohen in the Democratic primary but has thus far shown little evidence of campaigning.

For the record, Republican sources in the legislature, which will make the final determination on district lines, deny that the plan reported by the Tennessean is in the works. The rumored plan, first publicized by a Nashville-area blogger, was the occasion for a visit to the newspaper’s offices by Nashville mayor Karl Dean and Cooper, both concerned about the prospect of dividing the current 5th District.

Cohen, who in recent weeks has kept a busy schedule, presiding over a series of constituent forums and seminars on federal programs, has just returned from a trip to The Congo and Rwanda on behalf of CARE, Inc., a group that concerns itself with survivors of cataclysms. The congressman said that, despite the massacre of some 800,000 Rwandans that occurred in 1994, that country appears considerably more advanced and prosperous than does The Congo.

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