The group endorsed attorney Nikki Tinker over freshman Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) for the Aug. 7 Democratic primary in the Memphis-based district. Tinker narrowly lost to Cohen in the 2006 Democratic primary, and has been preparing for a comeback since announcing her candidacy in March.
“This is an extraordinary circumstance for us. We don’t make these decisions lightly,” said EMILY’s List spokeswoman Ramona Oliver. “Nikki ran a strong race in 2006 has put a strong race together in 2008, and she’s the only woman in this race.”
Cohen is the only white member of Congress to represent a district where the majority of residents (60 percent) are African-American. In 2006, he won a crowded 15-candidate primary field with 31 percent of the vote, only narrowly outdistancing Tinker by a 6-point margin. Cohen was the only serious white candidate in the race, and the primary field splintered largely along racial lines.
In Congress, Cohen has compiled one of the most liberal voting records in Congress in his first term. He recently sponsored a resolution calling for an official apology for slavery and Jim Crow laws.
Cohen’s campaign manager said that EMILY’s List endorsement is “all about gender” and not about policy.
“Steve Cohen doesn’t have the proper plumbing for EMILY’s List. His record as a state senator and congressman doesn’t mean anything to EMILY’s List because he’s not the right gender,” said Cohen campaign manager Jerry Austin.
“Is there one piece of legislation that Cohen supported or sponsored that EMILY’s List would have a problem with? The answer is no."
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