The Commercial Appeal has endorsed Congressman Steve Cohen for re-election in Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District.
U.S. Rep. STEVE COHEN is seeking a sixth term in Congress, and we think voters should provide him with the opportunity to do so.
He faces three challengers in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary for a place on the November general election ballot. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Wayne Alberson, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary for Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District seat.
Cohen’s challengers in the primary are Larry Crim of Antioch, Tennessee, near Nashville, Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford and M. LaTroy Williams.
Ford is serving his second term on the County Commission; he was its chairman in 2014-2015. During his tenure on the commission, he has been an advocate for neighborhood redevelopment, education and small-business growth.
According to his website, Crim already has announced he is running for U.S. Senate in 2018.
Cohen has had a target on his back in some circles since he won election to the 9th District seat, which includes most of Memphis and areas north of the city, in November 2007.
The main complaint over the years has been that a majority African-American city needs an African-American congressman. That argument gained a little extra bump this year with both the Memphis and Shelby County mayoral seats being held by white men.
Cohen’s occasional slips of the tongue also have drawn criticism.
As we have said before in this space, though, the effectiveness of an elected official cannot be measured simply by the color of that person’s skin. While it is true that an African-American’s experiences could give him or her a sharper focus on issues important to African-Americans, it also is true that during Cohen’s congressional tenure, he has not neglected those concerns. He also has not neglected support for projects that have enhanced the city’s quality of life and economic development.
Even some of his critics think his last two terms have been his best.
Cohen has been a leader in policy debates on issues crucial to Memphis, from universal health care and workforce development, to support for veterans issues, education, scientific research, reducing the backlog of untested rape kits and economic development, among other issues.
He helped Memphis land a $30 million federal Choice Neighborhoods grant to redevelop Foote Homes and the surrounding area and fought to land the city a $15 million federal TIGER grant to help fund the Main Street to Main Street Connector Project to make important improvements to the Main Street corridor as well as connect Downtown to West Memphis with a pedestrian and bike trail along the Harahan Bridge.
Cohen also led the effort in Congress for the state of Tennessee to receive a guaranteed disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotment totaling more than $530 million over the next 10 years to help the state’s hospitals and community health centers recoup expenses incurred from caring for those who cannot afford to pay.
Even though he is in the minority party, he has been able to garner some of these accomplishments with bipartisan support.
That is an important point to keep in mind in this period of partisan fractiousness in Washington that has stymied action on key legislation.
Memphis does not need to lose that kind of experience in Washington.
That is why voters should make sure Cohen is on the November ballot.