Cohen Gets President's Nod as Filing Deadline Comes



The Congrssman and the President in 2010
  • The Congrssman and the President in 2010
Shortly before the filing deadline of 12 noon Thursday for state and federal offices this year, 9th District congressman Steve Cohen, already considered far ahead of potential rivals in his Democratic primary race, both in campaign finances and in voter support, delivered what might be the coup de grace.

Cohen’s campaign announced that President Obama, on the very eve of the race, had endorsed the congressman for reelection in the August 2 Democratic primary and beyond. In a statement released by the congressman’s campaign staff, the President was unequivocal in his support: “Congressman Steve Cohen has worked with me on jobs bills, health care, and other issues of importance to the middle class. He also never fails to pitch me on the city of Memphis, whether it's Booker T. Washington High School, Memphis basketball, or barbeque. I urge you to vote for Steve Cohen, a tireless advocate for the 9th District.”

In turn, Cohen released a statement of his own: “I appreciate President Obama’s continued faith in me. It has been my privilege to work with the President, a man of integrity, honor and vision as well as a great leader, as I represent the 9th Congressional District of Tennessee. The President has always shown genuine concern and care for Memphians and I know that together we’ll continue to make good progress.”

Other 9th District congressional candidates who had filed by the deadline were, among Democrats, Tomeka Hart and Palmer Harris. The latter is a political unknown, but Hart, head of the Memphis Urban League chapter and a member of the Unified Shelby County School Board who played a major role in effecting school merger, is well- known and regarded highly enough to have nursed hopes of making an effective challenge.

Even before Thursday’s bombshell announcement by Cohen, however, Hart had experienced major difficulty drumming up money and support.

Republican candidates who filed in the 9th were Charlotte Bergmann, George Flinn, Ernest Lunati, and Rollin Stooksberry. Bergmann was the GOP nominee two years ago in a losing general election race against Cohen, and was considered a likely nominee this year as well before the decision to run by Flinn, a wealthy physician and radio executive who formerly served on the Shelby County Commission and is well known and influential in party circles.

Independent Brian Saulsberry will also be a candidate, against the Democratic and Republicans winner, in the November general election.

OTHER FILINGS (note: several listed here were still underdoing the process of having their petitions evaluated for the right number of valid signatures at press time; any changes in the roster who will be made in this space later, as needed):

Filees in legislative races include:

State Senate District 30: Candidates are Beverly Marrero, Jim Kyle, and Mario Dennis, among Democrats, and Colonel G. Billingsley, a Republican.

The race will likely be decided in the Democratic primary, where incumbent Marrero has stiff competition from Kyle, the Democrats’ leader in the state Senate who was gerrymandered out of his erstwhile District 28 before managing a late shift in the heavily Democratic District 30.

State Senate District 32: The two candidates filing, both Republicans, are incumbent Mark Norris, the current state Senate Majority Leader, and Woody Degan, a political unknown. Degan’s petition was still being examined at press time for evidence of sufficient signatures.

State House District 83: Incumbent Mark White is unopposed.

State House District 84: Incumbent Joe Towns Jr. is opposed in the Democratic primary by Leon Dishmon Sr. and Hendrell Remus. Dishmon’s signatures were being evaluated.

State House District 85: Incumbent Democrat Johnnie Turner is opposed in the primary by Eddie Jones.

State House District 86: Incumbent Barbara Cooper apparently faces her usual Democratic primary opposition from George T. Edwards, whose signatures were being looked at.

State House District 87: Democratic incumbent Karen Camper is unopposed.

State House District 88: Incumbent Democrat Larry Miller has no primary opponent. Harry Barber has filed as a Republican.

State House District 90: Incumbent Democrat John DeBerry is opposed in his primary by Jeanne Richardson, who is the current incumbent in District 89, and by Ian Randolph, whose qualifying signatures were still under examination. Though she is considered an underdog, Richardson, who was effectively gerrymandered out of her former district, will have support from District 90 liberals disenchanted with some of DeBerry’s positions.

State House District 91: Incumbent Lois DeBerry, the former longtime House Speaker Pro Tem, is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

State House District 93: Democratic incumbent Mike Kernell has unexpected primary opposition from former District 92 incumbent G.A. Hardaway, whose district disappeared from the map of Shelby County during reapportionment.

State House District 95: Incumbent Republican Curry Todd is unopposed in his primary. Democrat Robert E. Noziglia has filed.

State House District 96: Incumbent Republican Steve McManus will be opposed by Jim Harrell in the GOP primary.

State House District 97: Incumbent Republican Jim Coley is unopposed.

State House District 98: Incumbent Democrat Antonio “Two-Shay” Parkinson has primary opponents in Charles Thompson, whose signatures were still being evaluated. Independent Artie Smith has also filed.

State House District 99: Republican Ron Lollar is opposed in his primary by Thomas O. Stephens.


District 1: Christopher Caldwell, Michael Donohue, Noel Hutchinson, and Freda Williams. The qualifying signatures of the latter two were still being undergoing verification

District 2: Tyree Daniels, Eric Dunn, and Teresa Jones. Dunn’s signatures were being evaluated.

District 3: Raphael McInnis, David Reaves, and Gregory Ritter. Ritter’s signatures were still being verified.

District 4: Russell Jones, Kenneth Whalum Jr., and Kevin Woods. Whalum’s signatures were being examined.

District 5: Edgar Babian, David Pickler, and Kim Wirth.

District 6: Jonathan Lewis and Reginald Porter Jr., with Lewis’ signature being looked at.

District 7: Billy Orgel.

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