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  [TN-09] KKK founder statue finds its way into another race
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ContributorTX DEM 
Last EditedTX DEM  Aug 05, 2008 01:28am
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News DateTuesday, August 5, 2008 07:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionA statue of Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest has made its way into a second congressional campaign this year, with Rep. Steve Cohen’s (D-Tenn.) primary challenger injecting even more race into an already racially charged contest.

Democrat Nikki Tinker has launched a television ad spotlighting Cohen’s vote against renaming a Memphis park that is named for the Confederate general. It is narrated by former Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey, and it juxtaposes a picture of Cohen with a statue of Forrest.

Both Bailey and Tinker are black. Cohen, who is white, is trying to hold on to a district that is 60 percent black.

Cohen said he wanted to avoid the racially divisive process of renaming the park, and he pointed out that city leaders never acted on the recommendation.

“It’s just a desperation effort that’s hard to fathom — that somebody would suggest that, particularly a Jewish person, was in any way involved with the Ku Klux Klan,” Cohen told The Hill. “The Klan didn’t exactly have Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana services and invite us over for them.”

Previously this cycle, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) dropped controversial fliers in the final days of a special election in the neighboring 1st district of Mississippi. The fliers criticized the Republican candidate, Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, for allegedly saying he would accept the transplanted statue of Forrest.

Davis maintained he was only willing to accept a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He wound up losing the special election.

Cohen won his primary in 2006 with just 31 percent of the vote, while a crowded field of black candidates split up the rest of vote.

The vote referenced in the ad is one Cohen made as a member of the Center County Commission. He was the only member of the commission to vote against a recommendation that the park be renamed.
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