BY JACKSON BAKER | MAY 10, 2007
Steve Cohen is no half-hearted booster of Kevin Gallagher for the open District 89 state House seat. That was the word this weekend from the congressman himself disappointing though it may be to some of the boosters of Jeannie Richardson’s rival Democratic candidacy for the seat.
There were claims here and there, even after Cohen’s yard on Kenilworth sprouted a Gallagher campaign sign a week or two ago, that Cohen intended to give only pro forma support to Gallagher, who was campaign manager for his successful run last year in Memphis’ 9th congressional district.
Not so, says Cohen, who went on to suggest, without elaborating, that if things got “nasty” in the race between the two Democrats, he would feel compelled to intervene on Gallagher’s behalf more directly than he has to date.
“I’m focusing on my congressional duties,” said Cohen, who professed to have no problem with Richardson’s candidacy, largely directed by his sometime associate David Upton, but acknowledged that the "hard core" of his former campaign staff was involved in the Gallagher campaign. The congressman also confirmed that he had made a substantial contribution to Gallagher’s campaign coffers and had encouraged others to do so.
District 89 was formerly represented by Beverly Marrero, who earlier this year was elected to succeed Cohen in state Senate District 30. The Democratic primary race between Gallagher and Richardson is regarded as nip-and-tuck by most observers.
Gallagher and Richardson will get their first direct opportunity to confront each other one-on-one next Saturday, May 20, at a forum hosted by the Memphis Stonewall Democrats at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center at 892 South Cooper.
Two candidates Wayne McGinnis and Dave Wicker Jr. are also vying in the Republican primary, which has so far attracted conspicuously less attention. Both party primaries will be held May 31, with the winners competing in the special general election on July 17.
Early voting in the District 89 primary race began Friday at Election Commission headquarters at 157 Poplar Ave. and will continue through Saturday, May 26.