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Editorial Results (free)

1. Consolidation Voting Case Still Complex in 3rd Year -

Three years after all the votes were counted in dual votes on an attempt to consolidate city and county governments, the federal lawsuit over the dual-vote requirement in state law continues.

And a look at the depositions and other written statements in the case file from the experts for each side shows the issues in the federal court case remain complex.

2. Cohen Talks About Opponents, Schools, Race and His Political Past -

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen is running for a fourth term in Congress starting with the Aug. 2 primary, in which he is being challenged by countywide school board member Tomeka Hart.

3. Deadline Looms For Candidates In March Primaries -

There is the paperwork and there are the deadlines in politics. And then there are the campaigns that begin long before the paperwork or deadlines.

One group of candidates in the 2012 election cycle is approaching its first deadline Thursday, Dec. 8, at noon – the filing deadline for the March 6 county primaries.

4. Pinnacle Awards Honor City’s Best Brokers -

As emcee Dan Conaway noted in his opening address Thursday night at the 10th annual Pinnacle Awards, “OK is the new great.”

5. Pinnacle Awards Honor City's Best Brokers -

As emcee Dan Conaway noted in his opening address Thursday night at the 10th annual Pinnacle Awards, “OK is the new great.”

6. Obama Endorsement Shows Opposing Views in 9th Race -

Willie Herenton and Steve Cohen might run into each other Saturday.

The two Democratic congressional contenders will each be ferrying early voters to the Shelby County Election Commission office Downtown at about the same time on the second day of the early voting period.

7. Herenton Says Obama Endorsement Shows Cohen Campaign 'Desperate' -

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton says a presidential endorsement of Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen shows how desperate the Cohen campaign is.

8. Is 9th District Really Black? Maybe, Expert Says -  

One of the most hotly contested issues of the Democratic congressional primary race between Willie Herenton and Steve Cohen may be why the district lines are drawn the way they are.

The 9th Congressional District has been predominantly in Memphis for decades. In recent years it has grown to take in small parts of the suburbs. The lines could change again after the 2010 Census, when the Tennessee Legislature begins its usual reapportioning process.

Herenton and his supporters have repeatedly said the district’s borders were drawn to enhance the possibility of black representation in a congressional delegation that’s all white.

“I want you ... to help us to retrieve for our children what we lost in representation,” Herenton told a predominantly black crowd of 300 people Saturday at an East Memphis campaign rally.

To make the point even plainer, Herenton quoted radio talk show host and political blogger Thaddeus Matthews.

“Think about that. White folks, y’all got all 11. We just want one,” Herenton said to cheers from the crowd.

The legal concept and practice of drawing districts that reflect a majority black population, however, is not that simple. It’s rooted in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Section II of the act requires that, in certain circumstances, districts be drawn to “give effect to the political preferences of the minority population.”

“This is actually a fairly technical area and it’s been the subject of a lot of litigation over the years, trying to interpret how Section II applies,” said attorney John Ryder.

Ryder is a Republican National Committeeman and chairman of the RNC’s redistricting committee. He is also the most experienced attorney locally of either party in the law and political effect of drawing district boundaries.

The clearest guideline for the creation of such a district is the 1986 Gingles case from North Carolina, which established three criteria or preconditions to create such a district:

  • The minority population must be compact and contiguous.
  • The minority population usually votes as a bloc.
  • The white population usually votes as a bloc in such a way as to defeat the minority population’s candidate of choice.

Tennessee meets the first condition, Ryder said.

“The problem with the second two … conditions is that it’s hard to argue that the white majority votes in such a way as to defeat the preferred candidate of the minority population’s choice when we’ve elected Barack Obama as president,” he said, adding the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Tennessee in which Harold Ford Jr. got 49 percent of the vote in a statewide race won by Bob Corker.

“You just don’t see the kind of racial bloc voting that existed in 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was originally passed,” Ryder said.

The first black political leader to claim what is now the 9th District seat did so in the 1974 midterm congressional elections, in a district drawn with no overt racial considerations.

Harold Ford Sr. was a Democratic state representative at the time, seeking to unseat Dan Kuykendall, the white Republican congressman from Memphis in what was then the 8th Congressional District.

After the 1970 census, the majority Democrat Tennessee Legislature redrew congressional district lines to cede to Republicans seats in the majority GOP eastern end of the state, Ryder said. They also moved to create more Democratic districts in West Tennessee by splitting the Republicans outside Memphis between the 8th and 7th districts.

“As a result in 1972, those seats elected Republicans,” Ryder said. “They got a little too clever and overreached. What was then the 8th district was drawn to be a Democrat district, not necessarily a black district.”

Ford upset Kuykendall in the year of Watergate, when Republican incumbents were imperiled by the scandal and the tarnished presidency of Richard Nixon. Kuykendall also underestimated Ford, who held the seat for 22 years. His son, Harold Ford Jr., continued for another 10 years.

By then, black voters were considered the majority of registered voters in Memphis. The official numbers from the Shelby County Election Commission by themselves are less conclusive.

Voter registration statistics as of Jan. 31 show there are 412,433 voters in the city of Memphis. Of that number, 183,443 are black and 96,686 are white. Another 132,304 are listed as “other,” meaning they are of another racial group or did not indicate their race on voter registration forms.

The 2000 U.S Census puts the city’s population at 670,902 with 61.4 percent black and 34.4 percent white. Of the total population counted, 27.9 percent were younger than 18.

Ryder said the central question that was already present when Cohen was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2008 is who is the preferred candidate of the black population.

“Steve Cohen has obviously been successful in obtaining votes from the black population. I think he can make a legitimate claim to be the preferred candidate of choice,” Ryder added. “What it means is the Voting Rights Act certainly led to the creation of a majority black district, and that means that the black population in the 9th District has the opportunity to elect its preferred candidate of choice. In our political system, all players are free to compete to become that preferred candidate.”

Herenton and those putting together his campaign strategy point out that Cohen won the Democratic primary the first time in a large field with numerous black contenders. In 2008, Nikki Tinker returned from that pack for a second try in a smaller field of four challengers. Cohen won easily and Tinker later expressed regret over a controversial campaign strategy that stressed race.

The message to black voters from Herenton’s camp is a tacit admission that Cohen was elected with black votes.

“It’s the only place in Tennessee that you can elect somebody that looks like you,” Shelby County Commissioner Sidney Chism said at Saturday’s rally. “We’ve got to clean up what we messed up. … You should want the same, and if you don’t, something’s wrong.”

...

9. Cohen Puts Own Spin on White House Dustup, Reflects on ‘08 -

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, told the Memphis Rotary Club this week he was never asked to leave the White House. And he did find the Memphis ornament by local artist Carol DeForest on one of the White House Christmas trees before a run-in with an usher.

10. RISE Foundation Names Board Members -

The RISE Foundation has named its 2008-2009 board of directors.

The members are Jay Healy, board chair; Beverly Robertson, vice chair; Marianne Parrs, treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee; Chuck Schadt, secretary; Tomeka Hart, community initiatives chair; Scott Cromie, new markets chair; and David Waddell, board development chair.

11. Cohen, Blackburn Lead Local Election Winners -

More than half and possibly as much as 75 percent of Shelby County’s nearly 626,000 voters are expected to turn out for the Nov. 4 election that will be highlighted by the John McCain-Barack Obama battle for the White House.

12. Cohen Crushes Tinker - Jackson Upsets Turner - Charter Changes Pass-Fail - Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen was the big winner in Thursday’s primary elections. Cohen, with 80 percent of the vote, crushed challenger Nikki Tinker in the hard fought 9th District Democratic primary.

The upset of the evening was the general election contest for General Sessions Court Clerk where Democratic challenger Otis Jackson beat Republican incumbent Chris Turner.

And only one of two sets of Shelby County charter amendments on the ballot were approved by voters.

Voter turnout was just under 16 percent in Shelby County. Voter turnout was clearly driven by the 9th District Democratic primary. More people voted in that primary which covers most but not all of Shelby County than voted countywide in the state Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Turnout in the Democratic primaries was twice that of the Republican primaries in Shelby County.

All results are unofficial pending audit and certification by the Shelby County Election Commission and Tennessee election officials

9th Congressional District
Democratic Primary
Steve Cohen 50,284 79%
Nikki Tinker 11,814 19%
Joe Towns Jr. 914 1%

Not even close. Cohen won the primary for the open all Shelby County seat two years ago by 4,400 votes over Tinker and 13 other candidates. This time around he was the incumbent and Tinker’s challenge was more strident with a pair of controversial attack ads in the gap between the end of early voting and election day. Both were probably factors in the vote totals along with a smaller field of five candidates.

Cohen faces independent candidate Jake Ford in the Nov. 4 general election.

7th Congressional District
Republican Primary
248 of 265 precincts reporting
Marsha Blackburn 29,158 65%
Tom Leatherwood 15,636 35%

These are the results district wide which includes not only the eastern part of Shelby County but a strip of Middle Tennessee up to the Kentucky state line. In Shelby County’s part of the 7th district, Leatherwood beat Blackburn with 62 percent of the vote. But it was 62 percent of just over 19,000 votes. Outside Shelby County it was always going to be difficult for Leatherwood.. The low voter turnout in Collierville and other eastern parts of the county made Leatherwood’s task impossible.

Blackburn faces Democrat Randy G. Morris on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Shelby County Charter Amendment #360
Yes  49,506   49.73%

No   50,043   50,27%

Closest contest of the night in Shelby County with a 537 vote margin and the highest turnout with 99,549 votes total.

This set of charter changes was to fix a legal problem noted in a recent Tennessee Supreme Court ruling. Another part of the package deal was increasing term limits for the county mayor and the county commission from two consecutive four year terms approved by voters in 1994 to three consecutive four year terms. The County Commission meets Monday to ponder whether it should offer another charter amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot that would fix the legal problem.

Shelby County Charter Amendment #361
Yes 65,548 68%
No 30,188 32%

This set of charter amendment includes provisions for recalling elected officials. It also establishes a new method for filling a vacancy in the office of County Mayor.

General Sessions Court Clerk
Otis Jackson 51,438 52%
Chris Turner 43,971 45%

The upset of the evening. Turner, the Republican nominee and the incumbent was seeking a fourth term. Jackson, the Democratic nominee, was making his fourth bid for county-wide office after coming close in a 2006 bid for County Clerk.

Trustee
Paul Mattila 54,734 57%
Ray Butler 29,977 31%

Mattila beats Butler in a race featuring an energetic and misleading campaign by M. LaTroy Williams in which Williams billed himself as the “real Democrat.” He was, in fact, an independent candidate garnering 8 percent of the vote. Mattila fills the remaining two years left in the term of office of the late Bob Patterson, a Republican. Mattila, a Democrat, worked with Patterson. Butler, the Republican, was also a friend of Patterson’s and the race amounted to who would best continue to operate the office as Patterson did.

Criminal Court Judge Div. 6
John Fowlkes 44,581 52%
Latonya Burrow 21,874 26%
Michael G. Floyd 12,071 14%
Claiborne H. Ferguson 6,240 7%

Fowlkes serves out the remaining six years left of the eight year term of office of Fred Axley who resigned from the bench shortly after winning re-election in 2006. Burrow finished a close second to Axley two years ago and again ran an energetic campaign this time around. But Fowlkes status in the legal community and his appointment to the bench by Gov. Phil Bredesen proved to be the advantage.

Assessor of Property
Cheyenne Johnson 59,637 60%
Bill Giannini 39,057 40%

Johnson, the Democratic nominee, easily beat Giannini, who is also doubling as local GOP chairman. Local Democrats keep the county-wide position in their column as voters go for the candidate endorsed by outgoing Democratic incumbent Rita Clark.

U.S. Senate
Democratic Primary
2,192 of 2,290 precincts reporting
Bob Tuke 54,613 32%
Gary G. Davis 37,193 22%
Mike Padgett 32,190 19%
Mark Clayton 30,359 18%
Kenneth Eaton 13,718 8%
Leonard Ladner 4,431 3%

These are the statewide results. Tuke got 42 percent of the Shelby County vote with Clayton finishing second. Tuke, the former state Democratic Party chairman, faces Republican incumbent Lamar Alexander, one of the most successful politicians in the history of the state, in the Nov. 4 general election.

Judicial Retention Races

All seven state appellate court judges, including two Tennessee Supreme Court justices, won their yes/no contests on the ballot across the state. That includes Tennessee Criminal Appeals Court Judge Camille McMullen of Millington who was just appointed to the bench in June by Gov. Phil Bredesen.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

...

13. Polls Open For Primary, County Elections -

Polling places in Shelby County will be open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for state and federal primaries and county general elections.

Also, voters will decide the fate of two sets of amendments to the Shelby County charter, and will vote yes or no to retain seven state appeals court judges. The county general election ballot features races for assessor, trustee, General Sessions Court clerk and Criminal Court judge Division 6.

14. Get Ready to Vote Thursday -

Early voter turnout in advance of Thursday’s election was higher in Shelby County than it was four years ago. But it was lower than the total from two years ago.

Early voting ended Saturday evening at 19 locations across the county.

15. Race Still an Issue In Cohen’s Bid -

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen faces his first re-election challenge in next month’s Democratic primary, and race is again at the heart of the fight.

But unabashed complaints that a white person cannot represent a majority black city have lessened. Now Cohen’s opponents focus on a more subtle call for “diversity” – in Congress and on Tennessee’s all-white congressional delegation.

16. 8K Early Voters Cast Ballots So Far -

Just more than 8,000 citizens voted early through Friday in advance of Shelby County’s Aug. 7 election day.

Voting totals for Thursday and Friday included the first two days of early voting at 18 satellite locations across Shelby County. And with the opening of the satellite polling places, voter totals jumped by more than 10 times compared to days when the Shelby County Election Commission headquarters was the only early voting location open.

17. Early Voting Starts Today -

Early voting in advance of the Aug. 7 election begins today Downtown.

The ballot features primary contests for state and federal offices as well as county general elections for assessor, General Sessions Court clerk, trustee and Shelby County Criminal Court Division 6 judge.

18. Ford's Wife Gives to Cohen's Challenger in Memphis -

NASHVILLE (AP) - Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr.'s new bride is lending her financial support to the primary challenger of the Democrat who succeeded her husband in Congress.

Federal campaign finance reports show Emily Threlkeld Ford has given Nikki Tinker $3,300 to support her effort to unseat Rep. Steve Cohen in the 9th Congressional District.

19. Cohen Corrects Quote Brought up in Debate -

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen is correcting a quote from an election night 12 years ago attributed to him in last week’s televised congressional debate.

During the debate between Cohen and Democratic primary challengers Nikki Tinker and Joe Towns, Towns brought up the moment when Cohen expressed his frustration over the lack of black support for his successful bid for re-election to the state senate.

20. 9th District Candidates Size Up Each Other at Debate -

They agreed on a number of things: Gas prices are too high, mortgages are too risky and the war in Iraq should end.

What likely is to be the only debate among the top three contenders in the 9th Congressional District Democratic primary was more of a demonstration of different campaign strategies than differences on how to vote in Congress. It also offered a glimpse below the surface of the hotly contested primary.

21. Early Voting Date Changes Denied -

U.S. Congressional candidate Nikki Tinker and her supporters went to members of the Shelby County Election Commission Tuesday in a quest to make early voting in advance of the Aug. 7 election day even earlier at the satellite voting locations.

22. August BallotNearly Set -      The ballot for the Aug. 7 county general and state and federal primary elections is almost set. Still to come is a set of proposed amendments to Shelby County government's charter.
     But

23. Few Surprises At Filing Deadline -

About half of Shelby County's delegation to the Tennessee Legislature won re-election at Thursday's filing deadline for candidates on the Aug. 7 ballot.

Eight of the 16 state House seats had only one candidate - the incumbent. And all three of the state Senate seats on the ballot were incumbent-only affairs.

24. Primaries Heat Up as Filing Deadline Passes - The race for the Memphis 9th Congressional District seat will have no Republican contenders.

At Thursday’s deadline for candidates to file in the Aug. 7 state and Congressional primaries, no Republicans had filed for the GOP primary.

25. Primaries Heat Up as Filing Deadline Passes - The race for the Memphis 9th Congressional District seat will have no Republican contenders.

At today’s deadline for candidates to file in the Aug. 7 state and Congressional primaries, no Republicans had filed for the GOP primary.

26. Filing Deadline For Elections Is Thursday -

A healthy voter turnout doesn't necessarily mean every race on the ballot gets the benefit. Politicos call it "ballot falloff." It means races such as those for president or mayor get voters to the polls. But those same voters might decide not to vote in the other races.

27. Leatherwood to Challenge Blackburn; Other Races Heating Up Too -

The 9th Congressional District Democratic primary won't be the only challenge to an incumbent congressman whose district includes the Memphis area.

Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood told The Daily News this week that he will challenge 7th District Republican incumbent Marsha Blackburn on the Aug. 7 ballot.

28. Anti-Semitic Flier Attacks White Congressman In Black District -

Steve Cohen, a white congressman representing a mostly black district, is no stranger to political attacks tinged with race.

But a political flier that surfaced this week aiming to rally black Christians to oppose Cohen because he's Jewish now has injected anti-Semitism into his re-election bid.

29. Cohen Stays On Full Throttle, Works to Keep Seat -

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said he has learned a lot during his year in Congress. And he expects that knowledge and his votes in that position to be challenged in his 2008 bid for a second two-year term from Tennessee's ninth Congressional district.

30. Tinker Works To Out-Fundraise Cohen For His Congressional Seat -

In last Friday's edition of The Washington Post, columnist Mary Ann Akers introduced her readers to Memphis congressman Steve Cohen, summing up her interviewee as a "fun-loving hipster in an aging man's body."

31. 'Sisters' Luncheon to Recognize Breast Cancer Survivors -

Carolyn Whitney, president of the local chapter of Sisters Network, knows firsthand how beneficial the organization can be.

Diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago, Whitney didn't want to go through the pain of a mammogram, but eventually realized she couldn't avoid it.

32. Archived Article: Daily Digest - Pinnacle Airlines

Country Squire Property

Sells for $12.4 Million

Brookside LLC has purchased 25.26 acres at 8293 George Brett Drive from Country Squire Ltd. for $12.4 million, according to The Daily News Public Records Database, www.memphi...