(From the diaries – promoted by James L.)
I’m not sure if this is a case of EMILY’s List jumping the shark, drinking the gender essentialist Kool-Aid, or throwing Steve Cohen under the bus (maybe all three cliches at once?), but EMILY’s List has endorsed Nikki Tinker in the primary in TN-09 rather than incumbent progressive Steve Cohen.
EMILY’s List offered the following rationale:
“This is an extraordinary circumstance for us. We don’t make these decisions lightly,” said EMILY’s List spokeswoman Ramona Oliver. “Nikki ran a strong race in 2006 has put a strong race together in 2008, and she’s the only woman in this race.”
Cohen’s response was:
Cohen said he was somewhat surprised by the endorsement, citing his support and ‘A’ rating from the abortion-rights group Planned Parenthood. “It’s unfortunate that the women who give money and trust to EMILY’s List are not going to see their money going against Republicans, but that their money is going to used against a champion of choice,” Cohen said.
And Cohen’s campaign manager got more to the point!
“Steve Cohen doesn’t have the proper plumbing for EMILY’s List. His record as a state senator and congressman doesn’t mean anything to EMILY’s List because he’s not the right gender,” said Cohen campaign manager Jerry Austin.
The race in TN-09 is a curious confluence of gender and race; Steve Cohen is a Jewish white guy who represents a district that’s almost 60% African-American (who emerged from the primary via a split black vote). This is the seat that used to be represented by Harold Ford, Jr., so with Cohen a member of the Progressive Caucus and sporting a Progressive Punch score of 95%, he’s a big improvement over Ford, who was consistently the least liberal member of the CBC.
By contrast, Tinker (who is African-American and, obviously, female) is running as the apparently more conservative option (and, presumably, one who would therefore be less representative of the views of her D+18 district). Tinker’s background is in corporate law, specializing in “labor relations,” first for large firm Ford & Harrison and then for the general counsel for Memphis-based Northwest Airlines affiliate Pinnacle Airways.
For what it’s worth, a poll from a few weeks ago showed Cohen beating Tinker by a gaudy 63-11 margin, so unless it’s intended simply as a thumb in the eye to Cohen, it may be too little too late for them (although the primary isn’t until August 7).
Why a thumb in the eye right now? Cohen may have a frowny face on their good/bad chart as a result of his May 10 gaffe where he used a sexually loaded cinematic allusion to urge Hillary Clinton to exit stage right:
“Glenn Close should have stayed in that tub, and Sen. Clinton has had a remarkable career and needs to move to the next step, which is helping elect the Democratic nominee,” Cohen said.
Cohen rightly expressed his regrets over the comparison later, but is it an offense that really justifies EMILY’s List diverting its resources away from the general election task of beating Republicans and their decidedly non-feminist agenda?