Good Tidings for Cohen 

New poll shows him well ahead in the 9th District; meanwhile, other races get started.

A new poll conducted on behalf of the reelection campaign of 9th District congressman Steve Cohen purports to provide evidence that Cohen is running well ahead of all challengers, including attorney Nikki Tinker, his principal foe in the August Democratic primary.

The poll, conducted of 400 likely primary voters by Lake Research Partners in late April, shows Cohen with a lead of 52 points over Tinker in a candidate preference poll. The congressman is the choice of 63 percent of those polled, with Tinker selected by 11 percent, and state representative Joe Towns laying claim to 5 percent. Undecided voters add up to another 20 percent.

In its summary, the Lake poll says that Cohen "wins nearly six-in-10 African Americans (59 percent) and more than eight-in-10 white voters (83 percent). The congressman leads among black men, with 70 percent; black women, with 54 percent; white women, with 81 percent; and white men, with 86 percent. Tinker's support among black women, her strongest group, is presented as 14 percent.

"Even after voters are introduced to positive information about both Steve Cohen and Nikki Tinker, including explicit references to the candidates' races, Cohen continues to garner majorities of both the black and white vote," says the Lake group's summary.

Cohen's approval rating among all voters is pegged at 40 percent "excellent" and 38 percent "good," with only 1 percent rating his job performance as "poor."

The "bottom line" according to the poll: "Voters express strong satisfaction with Steve Cohen's leadership and are in no mood to replace him."

Weighted, as is the district, toward black voters, the poll is aimed at those voters considered to be certain to vote.

One poll feature asks voters to express favorable or unfavorable opinions about Cohen, Tinker, Towns, and, for comparison's sake, a number of other well-known public figures, both local and national, alongside whom Cohen measures up well.

• No white flag from Tinker, of course, who seems to be revving up her own campaign (and almost certainly will be forthcoming with her own polls). Her campaign receipts, while lagging behind Cohen's, are still significant, and she is making sure to touch the bases. One recent example was the Shelby County Democrats' annual Kennedy Day dinner last Friday night at the Central Avenue Holiday Inn, where Tinker patiently and cheerfully worked all the tables in the room.

One of those tables might have given her a jolt. Occupied by Cohen himself, it also seated several supporters — among them former Shelby County commissioner Julian Bolton, one of Cohen's more determined adversaries in his 2006 race and, as such, yet another indicator that the congressman himself has been energetically touching the bases.

• Cohen may wish he'd suppressed his energy level just a tad. Known, since his state Senate days, as a ready man with a quip, he got one off from the dais Friday night — a tongue-in-cheek comparison of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to the relentless stalker played by actress Glenn Close in the 1987 shocker Fatal Attraction. The remark got some national play from ABC's Jake Tapper and on CNN and various political websites.

Cohen is a supporter of likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama but has long had friendly ties with the Clintons, as well, and he hastened to follow up with a fulsome apology to the New York senator.

• Keynote speaker at the Kennedy Day dinner was Nashville-area congressman Jim Cooper, who serves as Obama's state chairman and doubles as a prime adviser to the Illinois senator on health-care issues. Political observers have long noted the similarities between the semi-voluntary coverage plan touted by Obama this year and that advanced by Cooper in 1994, as an alternative to one favored by then first lady Clinton.

• The first debate in this year's assessor's race took place Monday night at Neil's on Madison. Both Democrat Cheyenne Johnson (currently CAO to outgoing assessor Rita Clark) and Republican Bill Giannini gave good accounts of themselves. Giannini caused something of a stir when he served notice to several of Clark's appointees who were present that they'd likely be out of a job if he got elected.

• The race to complete the term of the late Trustee Bob Patterson has heated up, too — with Republican Ray Butler getting some early billboards out and Democrat Paul Mattila, currently the interim Trustee, picking up some key endorsements, from 8th District congressman John Tanner, among others.

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