KKK Ad Runner Loses TN Primary In Landslide

09/08/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Being linked to "big oil" turned into a big problem for Tennessee Republican freshman Rep. David Davis, who became the first congressman from that state to lose in a primary in more than four decades. ...

Meanwhile, in the 9th District, in Memphis, a racially charged Democratic primary ended with an incumbent congressman trouncing the opponent who ran an ad linking him to the Ku Klux Klan.

Unofficial results showed Democrat Steve Cohen with 79 percent of the vote to 19 percent for Nikki Tinker, a black corporate lawyer who was his chief opponent in the district that covers Memphis, with all precincts reporting.

Cohen is the first white congressman from Memphis in more than three decades and one of only two white congressmen representing a majority black district.

"The results are pretty clear," Cohen told cheering supporters at a victory party. "I'm here to report that Tennessee and Tennessee (District) 9 voted firmly for the post-racial politics that has carried a new generation to power."

The campaign turned ugly in its final days, when Tinker ran a television ad juxtaposing photos of Cohen, who is Jewish, and a hooded Ku Klux Klan member. Tinker's supporters argued the district, which is 60 percent black and 35 percent white, should be represented by a black candidate. Cohen, a former state senator, has a long record as a civil rights supporter.

Tinker said her ad linking Cohen to the KKK for opposing a 2005 effort to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from a downtown park "merely states the facts. I think the nation needs to know Steve Cohen's complete record."

But the ad drew condemnation Thursday from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. It juxtaposed pictures of a statue of Forrest, an early leader of the KKK, and a hooded Klansman in front of a burning cross while asking, "Who is the real Steve Cohen?"

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