The Tennessee primary tonight will again test the electability of Rep. Steve Cohen in a Democratic primary, with the liberal Congressman seeking his third term as the white representative of a majority-black district. And headed into today's vote, all signs point to him easily passing that test.
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Cohen is being challenged in the primary by former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton. Cohen is heavily favored to win, and has far outdistanced Herenton in fundraising. FEC records show that through July 16, Cohen had raised $898,832, spent $487,412 and had $892,102 on hand (including extra cash rolled over from the previous cycle). By contrast, Herenton raised only $42,750, spent $17,326, and had $25,422 on hand. Indeed, Cohen has even received a donation from the Congressional Black Caucus's PAC, a caucus that he has unsuccessfully attempted to join in the past. And one poll has predicted a landslide win for Cohen.
Herenton has made his campaign centrally about race, arguing that Tennessee's currently all-white Congressional delegation should have a black member from this majority African-American district. "I believe that it is very clear to the majority of the citizens of this community that we lack representation. And all we are seeking is just one, well-qualified, African-American to serve in an 11-member Tennessee delegation that is currently all white," Herenton has said. Herenton has also accused Cohen of "trying to act black," and has implored voters to "come off that Cohen plantation and get on the Herenton freedom train."