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Tennessee: Cohen’s Vanquished ’06 Foes Are Falling in Line

Former Congressional aide Nikki Tinker, who is looking to knock off Rep. Steve Cohen in the 9th district Democratic primary, picked up the endorsement late last week of the powerful pro-abortion-rights group, EMILY’s List.

The support of EMILY’s List, which endorses female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, means Tinker likely will now receive heavy financial support from the group’s large donor base. And that support will be crucial leading up to the August primary.

During her 2006 campaign in what was then an open seat, Tinker had significant support from EMILY’s List, which got behind her campaign a full three months earlier than it did this cycle.

In that race, Cohen emerged from a primary field of 15 candidates to secure his party’s nomination before handily defeating a Republican and Independent candidate in the general election. Tinker finished second in the Democratic primary, just 6 points behind Cohen.

But Cohen said in a recent interview that he has been endorsed by half of the 14 other Democrats who ran against him last cycle, and more endorsements are expected.

Among those who are supporting Cohen are attorney Joe Ford Jr., a cousin to former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D) who finished third in the primary behind Tinker (Tinker spent four years as campaign manager for Harold Ford Jr.). Cohen said he has also secured commitments from the fourth- and fifth-place finishers from the 2006 primary as well as four others candidates who finished further behind.

Of the five candidates who are challenging Cohen in the Democratic primary this year, two ran against him last cycle: Tinker and state Rep. Joe Towns Jr.

Meanwhile, Cohen’s campaign recently released a Lake Research Partners poll from late April that showed Cohen, who is the only white Member to represent a majority-black district, with 63 percent of the vote. Tinker, who is black, took 11 percent, and Towns, who is also black, received 5 percent. The survey of 400 likely Democratic primary voters had a 4.9-point margin of error.

— John McArdle

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