Steve Cohen vows to retire; primary 2022
For a few hours on Twitter Thursday, the political scene in Memphis held its breath. It has emerged that U.S. Representative Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, may be retiring.
But, with a few responses from Cohen later, it emerged that the congressman from Memphis had not deviated from his plans to run for reelection in 2022.
It all started when Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News quoted US Representative John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky. Yarmuth said Cohen, 72, was “dying” over whether to retire. Sherman tweeted the quote and sent politicians across the state on Twitter.
Hours later, Cohen spoke to US statesman and financier Bernard Baruch and said the information about his retirement had been “greatly exaggerated.” Sherman asked the question directly, “Are you retiring?” ”
“No,” Cohen replied.
And, with that, the speculation was stopped. For the moment.
What Cohen’s early approval tells us about the 2022 gubernatorial race
It doesn’t take a lot of arithmetic skills to realize that where there are a lot of people, there are a lot of votes. This is especially true when it comes to Shelby County and a statewide Democratic primary.
The largest county in the state has the largest bloc of Democratic voters. It’s also JB Smiley Jr.’s territory and a county where voters have reliably sent Cohen to Congress every two years since John Calipari coached Chris Douglas-Roberts in Memphis.
That’s why Cohen’s early endorsement of Smiley in the 2022 Democratic primary for governor was so important. One of Memphis’s top public officials giving his support to Smiley is something that will be noticed by progressive voters in Midtown and South Memphis, places that both vote overwhelmingly for Cohen.
The easiest path to Smiley’s victory might be home ground advantage. In 2020, Memphian Marquita Bradshaw won the Democratic U.S. Senate primary with 45% of Shelby County’s vote, which was 29% of his statewide total. Bradshaw received 34,612 votes in Shelby County and 117,962 statewide, respectively.
Smiley, a sitting city councilor, probably has more notoriety in Shelby County than Bradshaw, who started running as a community activist before creating some sort of political brand. If Smiley gets over 50% of Shelby County’s vote (say over 40,000 votes), he could be halfway through the primary.
The flip side of this coin is what Jason Martin, of Sumner County and doctor in Nashville, does in Davidson County. If he were to get a similar share of the vote there, it would be a battle in the state’s Democratic strongholds – Knox, Hamilton and Haywood counties. All of this assumes that another candidate does not enter the race and shake up the dynamics further.
Cohen’s endorsement also exemplified Smiley’s continued patronage of the Memphis political establishment, an effort that looks set to gain momentum in the weeks to come.
Notorious stateswoman in the old guard of Memphis politics, TaJuan Stout-Mitchell has hinted that she may soon endorse Smiley if someone else doesn’t step in and change her mind.
“I think Cohen is a smart man. JB Smiley is a good candidate. He is a statesman. He’s well educated… It doesn’t get much better than that, ”Stout-Mitchell said in an interview Tuesday.
Here are some news and more political notes:
- Look for Ken Moody, special assistant to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, to consider a race to replace his limited-term boss in 2023 if he steps down to challenge Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris in the county primary. Moody would build on his boss’s legacy.
- Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner, who has also expressed a keen interest in the 2023 race, endorsed Strickland in 2019. The same question we’ve asked about Strickland’s potential endorsements in future races is still topical.
- Although he hasn’t said anything publicly about his re-election bid, Harris sent his supporters a fundraising email last week. His latest campaign finance file, filed in early August, showed $ 68,276.84 in hand. This number probably increased throughout the late summer.
- We don’t yet know how much Memphis City Councilor Worth Morgan raised or loaned his campaign for Shelby County Mayor during the third quarter. His mid-year report showed that his campaign account contained just over $ 300. Bet on that going up.
- The Memphis For All Education Fund, a local advocacy group, wants a fair redistribution process and less gerrymandering and plans to lobby for such districts.
- “Since the 2012 redesign, the gerrymandered districts of Tennessee have had dire political consequences, leading to some of the most extreme legislation in decades, both in Congress and at the state level – there have been assaults against women’s health, a failure to tackle climate change, workers have been disenfranchised and lawmakers have refused to protect our families from the epidemic of gun violence We cannot allow this to happen again. We the people mean that we can choose who gets elected, not that politicians choose who their constituents are. ”- Bennett Foster, group executive director, said.
To read :
Here are some of the best internet reading in Memphis.
- Our fantastic columnist Tonyaa Weathersbee weighed in on the Tennessee-Mississippi water wars, which are a big deal. Her column touched on the scarcity of fresh water – something that those of us fortunate enough to drink from the Memphis Sand aquifer every day don’t think often enough.
- Shelby County and religion multi-talented reporter Katherine Burgess wrote this story about Rabbi Micah Greenstein, the eloquent leader of Temple Israel, marking three decades on the bimah.
- Otis Sanford showcased the value of his decades of insight in a column on Morgan’s candidacy for mayor in Shelby County. You can find it on dailymemphian.com
- Need to watch Penny Hardaway navigate the ground at FedExForum in a Polaris Slingshot? Of course you do. Jason Munz has you covered.
- Speaking of the Memphis For All Education Fund, Hannah Grabenstein of MLK50 looked at how this group and others are working to get more people in the Latin American community vaccinated.
- There has been a method for Memphis Madness for a long time, Munz reports. The Tigers basketball team returned to the limelight thanks to the recruiting of Hardaway and a slew of potential rookies were on hand to watch the madness on Wednesday.
Samuel Hardiman covers Memphis city government and politics for The Commercial Appeal. He also writes on Friday 901. He accepts comments at [email protected] or on Twitter at @samhardiman.