By one of those wonderful ironies (in the Churchillian sense of the adjective), the very circumstance that so often was a source of pain to 9th District congressman-elect Steve Cohen eventually became a blessing -- namely, the necessity to run hard against "independent Democrat" Jake Ford in the general election after undergoing a strenuous Democratic primary against several well-endowed opponents.
Although exact analysis will not become possible until the Election Commission certifies the results next Monday, the unofficial totals make it obvious that Cohen not only won a healthy 60 percent-plus majority of the district-wide vote but clearly won a majority of the black vote as well -- against a bona fide member of the Ford family, no less. And he did so in a year in which the remnants of the Ford organization, led by former Congressman Harold Ford Sr. himself, pulled out all the stops on behalf of Harold Ford Jr.'s U.S. Senate campaign, along with the local, state, and national party organizations.
Cohen's convincing victory over both Ford and Republican Mark White, who surely drew off a number of Cohen's potential white votes, seems to give the new congressman an unmistakable mandate to represent both major population blocs in District 9.
What will Harold Ford Jr. do? That subject has fostered much speculation since Ford lost his Senate race to Republican Bob Corker by three percentage points.
Head of the Democratic National Committee to replace Howard Dean? James Carville is pushing that one -- as a stalking horse for the Clintons, some say. But A) HFJr. says he's not into it; and B) Dean and his 50-state strategy command too much loyalty from the rank and file to let that happen.
Talk show on CNN, MSNBC, or whatever? Now we're talking. :-) And supposedly CNN made an offer the day after the election.
CEO of some enterprise yet to be designated? A Ford insider says that's the ticket.
Run against GOP incumbent Lamar Alexander for the Senate in 2008? High risk -- more so than the run against Corker was.
Run against four-term incumbent Willie Herenton for mayor of Memphis? Wow! That's the perfect storm council member and declared mayoral aspirant Carol Chumney is looking for to divide and conquer! But the consensus is that HFJr. would just as soon be in prison; his focus is national, not local.
Now who gets Cohen's District 30 state Senate seat? Among Democrats, some of the names being floated are activist David Upton, a longtime Cohen ally; Kevin Gallagher, the congressman-elect's recent campaign manager; and state representatives John Deberry and Mike Kernell. And businessman Kemp Conrad, the former Shelby County Republican chairman, reportedly has a hankering for the seat.
The victory of Democrat Lowe Finney over Republican convert Don McLeary for the state Senate seat in District 27 (Jackson and environs) means that Lt. Gov. John Wilder, the nominal Democrat and venerable Fayette Countian who has been the Senate's presiding officer for decades and has survived any number of election scares, power shifts, and attempted purges over the years, may have landed on his octogenarian feet one more time.
The Senate now has a one-vote Republican majority, and since one of the chamber's Republicans is Micheal Williams of Maynardville, a Wilder loyalist, and since the body's 16 Democrats will hold firm for the longtime speaker, that could be enough to keep Republican leader Ron Ramsey of Blountville at bay for one more term.
Bob Davis of Nashville, the state Republican chairman these last two years, has wasted no time post-election declaring his candidacy for reelection, but if he meant for that to be preemptive, it hasn't quite succeeded.
First-term state representative Eric Swafford of Pikeville, sounding a time-for-a-change note, has let it be known that he'll challenge Davis when the state Republican Committee meets in Nashville on December 2nd.
Correction: Incumbent Carl Johnson did not win election outright in the race for the District 6 seat on the Memphis School Board. Having polled only 48 percent of the vote, he and runner-up Sharon Webb, who polled an impressive 41 percent, will take part in a runoff election on December 12th.