And it seems that's become an issue.
In Congress, he's been pretty awesome. He's MUCH more progressive than Ford ever was, scoring a 96.28% progressive rating on Progressive Punch. But it seems certain folks in Memphis do not want them to be represented by anyone other than an African-American. So enter Nikki Tinker ("D"), who's challenging him in the primary. Cohen had already beaten her in a 15-candidate field in the 2006 primary.
Well, Tinker's people (so she can claim deniability) started in fine force back in February, unleashing this beyond disgusting flyer onto Memphis.
And then you get stupid racists spewing shit like this.
"He's not black and he can't represent me, that's just the bottom line," said Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.
But now it's gotten even worse. This week began with Tinker herself releasing this ad associating Cohen with the KKK.
The local Memphis Commercial-Appeal denounced the ad. (In case you're wondering why he voted that way, RealClearPolitics provides the backstory. It's basically a jurisdiction issue.)
But that wasn't bad enough. Tinker then released this ad just today, and it has drawn so much negative reaction from all over the country, that her campaign has already removed it from YouTube. But we still have the transcript.
CHILD'S VOICE: "Now I lay me down to sleep..."
ANNCR: "Who is the real Steve Cohen anyway?"
CHILD'S VOICE: "I pray the Lord my soul to keep..."
ANNCR: "While he's in our churches, clapping his hands and tapping his feet..."
CHILD'S VOICE: "If I should die before I wake..."
ANNCR: "He is the only senator who thought our kids shouldn't be allowed to pray in school."
CHILD'S VOICE: I pray the Lord my soul to take.
ANNCR: "Congressman, sometimes apologies just aren't enough."
TINKER: "I'm Nikki Tinker, and I approve this message."
The announcer's voice specifically stressed "our" in that ad. That's about as blatant as an anti-Semitic dog whistle you're ever going to hear on TV. For this disgusting ad, Keith Olbermann tonight named Tinker today's Worst Person in the World.
EMILY's List, which had actually endorsed Tinker over Cohen, despite his perfect pro-choice record, back in May, condemned the ad too, as if that's really going to matter less than 24 hours before voting ends. Of course, they could have done what NOW and NARAL did, which was endorse Cohen over a truly despicable person in the first place.
Oh, but that's only half the story. It gets worse. Much worse.
Steve Cohen forcibly removed a cameraman from his house who had barged in uninvited to Cohen's hastily-called news conference at Cohen's house to address the religion-baiting ad... and the cameraman is allegedly pressing 'assault' charges. (Video from the local Memphis Fox affiliate is available here.) The cameraman is an Armenian-American activist and documentary filmmaker who has been stalking Cohen all week; he's not officially affiliated with the Tinker camp, but Armenian groups have given more than $30K to the Tinker campaign because of Cohen's opposition to the bill to call the World War I-era slaughter of Armenians genocide (and thus infuriate Turkey).
Small legalistic note: there's a big difference between some sorehead pressing charges, and the county DA actually following through on them (which I guess we'll find out about that tomorrow). The video shows Cohen escorting the guy out the door with hand firmly on his arm and giving him a shove out the door for good measure; since the cameraman was essentially trespassing, this isn't likely to amount to anything.
Now, it turns out that filmmaker Peter Mursurlian is actually a Republican operative who used to work for former California Congressman Carlos Moorhead (R) of Pasadena. Also, none of the other Tennessee Democrats are co-sponsoring the resolution either, but none of them have been targeted the way Cohen has been.
I wonder why.
Update: Steve Cohen ended up CRUSHING Tinker 79%-19%. Hopefully this is an end to her political career.
Also, it turns out that Tinker supports abstinence-only education, which is hardly a platform of someone who's supposedly "pro-choice". Way to go, EMILY's List.