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Cohen Responds

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In the last two weeks of the 9th District congreessional campaign, Candidate Steve Cohen, the presumed leader in the 15-strong Democratic field, has come in for attack after attack from his opponents – ranging from a push-poll (Ed Stanton) asking the district’s predominantly Christian black voters how they feel about the religious views of their representative (Cohen is Jewish) to a suggestion that Cohen’s willingness to consider involving himself, if elected, with the Congressional Black Caucus is based on a scheme to divert money to Israel (Julian Bolton) to a scattershot attack across the board of the longtime state senator’s reputation (Nikki Tinker, via Emily’s List mailouts).

The beleaguered candidate hasn’t exactly cried foul at the nature of his press coverage, though several observers think he has ample reason to. But he did respond to the allegations about his record, both in a press conference, and in an email. The latter follows:

From Steve Cohen

Outsiders Are Trying to Buy Your Vote

During my 30 years in public service, I've made a lot of friends in this city. I appreciate each of the thousands of calls and emails I have received in support of my campaign. They came in from every neighborhood in Memphis. Because of my experience, people know they can rely on me to stand up for issues that affect regular people every day. That's why my pro-education, pro-jobs, pro-health care message has built so much momentum.

The field of congressional candidates is full of drive and ambition. They are bright, energetic, and many of them are youthful. Each has a goal of making Memphis even better and most have stayed on message sharing their vision with voters.

And that is the way elections should be. They should be about candidates and their issues.

If I've learned one thing in politics, it's that you have to stand up for what you believe in order to get things done. And people can disagree without being disagreeable. That's why when one of my opponents questioned my faith, I set that aside. When another ran negative ads against me and the Tennessee Lottery, I moved on with a positive message of hope and opportunity. But last week, another one of my opponents, who, by her own admission after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars was still far behind in the polls, took a road so low that I had to speak up and say "enough."

These mailings have attacked my commitment to education. For nearly two decades I fought to pass the lottery which has provided more than half a billion dollars for education in Tennessee and has helped more than 60,000 students reach their goal of getting a college education. Very few people in the history of Tennessee have worked as hard for education as I have. Only an outside group with no knowledge of this state and this community would question that.

Likewise, they have attacked my attendance record as a legislator. Again, those who know Tennessee and what happens here, know I have one of the best attendance records in the legislature and have put my livelihood as an attorney second to being a good senator. I have missed votes only because I was called away on state legislative business or because of serious medical issues.

The return address isn't a real office in Memphis but a small Post Office box at a UPS store. The images on its pages, not those of Memphians families and children, but paid models and actors in other states. This type of campaign tactic is an affront not only to the people of Memphis, but to every one in public service from the PTA to the State Capitol who believes in honest government and giving back to the community.

It sends a message that any DC special interest group can come into our city, set up a post office box, spend hundreds of thousands of out-of-state dollars filling our mailboxes with lies and expect Memphians to buy them.

Well as lifelong Memphian, I can tell you the votes of Memphis are not for sale.

Please visit my website for ways to show outside special interest groups you will not be fooled by phony groups with phony pictures making phony attacks. Help me go to Washington to clean up this type of dirty politics that has put this country on the wrong track.

www.cohenforcongress.com

Thank you for your support.

Steve

The whole to-do has generated a goodly amount of blog attention. See several articles at The Flypaper Theory and The Cue.

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