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Tinker Seeks Primary Rematch With Cohen

Setting up a potentially racially charged contest, attorney Nikki Tinker (D) last week filed papers to challenge freshman Rep. Steve Cohen (D) in the August 2008 Democratic primary.

Tinker, a lawyer for Pinnacle Air in Memphis, was the runner-up to Cohen in last year’s crowded open-seat primary, which Cohen won with 31 percent of the vote. In a district where about 60 percent of the population is black, many black leaders believe Cohen won the Democratic primary simply because he was the only major white candidate running against several strong black opponents.

Tinker’s ability to beat Cohen this time may rest on the number of black candidates who decide to run in the primary. The Memphis Flyer reported last week that state Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D), who is black, is pondering the race. And Jake Ford, a scion of the powerful Memphis political family who ran as an Independent last year for the seat his father and brother once held, told The Commercial Appeal last week he has not ruled out running in 2008.

“I’m basically allowing the incumbent to pretty much, like, give him enough rope and let him do it to himself,” Ford said.

Cohen has worked hard to ingratiate himself with black voters, and last year mused that he might want to join the Congressional Black Caucus — though caucus rules would have prevented him from doing so.

— Josh Kurtz

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