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VOL. 129 | NO. 150 | Monday, August 04, 2014

Cohen Complains of Fake Obama Endorsement

By Bill Dries

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The latest battle over an endorsement in the Democratic primary for the 9th Congressional District isn’t a confrontation between Democratic incumbent Steve Cohen and his challenger, Ricky Wilkins.

It is between Cohen and M. Latroy Williams, a perennial candidate of office over several election cycles who has the largest campaign signs of anyone in the year of the big ballot election cycle.

In the last week, Williams has put up large signs claiming the “National Democratic Party USA” endorses Wilkins and the placard includes a picture of President Barack Obama. It also misspells Wilkins’ first name.

Cohen has heavily promoted Obama’s endorsement in every one of his re-election campaigns including the current one.

Cohen’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee are pursuing court action against Williams over the banners and a television ad as well as a ballot that was distributed at early voting locations.

Monday afternoon, Circuit Court Judge Karen Williams has issued a restraining order barring Williams and those working with him from distributing the material further and requiring him and his workers to remove existing material with the Obama-Wilkins link.

Cohen and Wilkins clashed recently over the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which resulted in the labor union ultimately deciding to make no endorsement in the primary.

In the case of the Williams ballot and signs, Cohen is not linking Wilkins to the Williams effort.

But Wilkins remained critical of Cohen and renewed allegations that Cohen has been "bullying" his supporters.

"Steve Cohen bullies on one day and plays the victim on the next," Wilkins said in a written statement Monday afternoon in which he emphasized that he didn't have anything to do with the Williams material. "We welcome the free expression of supporters and have no involvement in the preparation or placement of their materials."

Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is due in Bartlett this evening for a Republican Party campaign effort to turn out the Republican vote in Shelby County on election day. The rally will be at Freeman Park and will also feature U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher.

Haslam will be making joint appearances with Alexander at some of the rallies across the state.

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