So it's a Three-Way (Sort Of) in the 9th: Cohen, Tinker, and ... Jake Ford! 

The race for Memphis' 9th District congressional seat, now held by first-term Democrat Steve Cohen, was always destined to be closely watched, inasmuch as it pitted Cohen against Nikki Tinker, the runner-up in the 2006 Democratic primary.

There are obvious contrasts between Cohen and Tinker in gender, race (he's white, she's black), religion (he's Jewish, she's Christian), and, not least, political ideology, an area where Cohen's legislative record and several decades' worth of outspokenness are counterpointed by what is, relatively speaking, Tinker's blank slate.

Moreover, both those campaign efforts are expected to be well funded, and Cohen has attracted an unusual degree of national attention during his first term -- much but not all of it for his close attention to matters affecting his predominantly African-American constituency.

For her part, corporate attorney Tinker, who opened her Elvis Presley Boulevard headquarters last weekend, has shown conspicuous determination in mounting a second run for Congress. And, though she has (to put it mildly) been unspecific about issues as such, she is pitching broad campaign themes -- for education and economic development and against crime -- aimed squarely at the district's black majority.

But hold everything! As of Monday, this established pas de deux took on a third member, whose volatile presence, personal history, and family name seem likely to turn what had been a tidy ballet into a free-for-all.

Jake Ford, second son of one former District 9 congressman, Harold Ford Sr., and brother of another, Harold Ford Jr., picked up a petition at the Election Commission Monday to run as a Democrat for the 9th District seat against Cohen, Tinker, and several other less ballyhooed figures in the party's August 7th primary.

But hold on again! Having evidently rethought the matter, Ford returned to the Election Commission on Tuesday, picked up a new petition to run as an independent, and returned shortly thereafter to file it.

That means that Cohen (or Tinker), having struggled through what will basically be a mano-a-mano prmary, will have to do it all over again in the fall against Jake Ford.

As we say in the news business, MTK. More to Come. We'll post it as it happens. Meanwhile, read the lengthier version of all this in this week's "Politics" column in the Flyer's print edition.

For the record, meanwhile, these are the (so far) "unballyhooed" Democrats also running: James Gregory, Perry Steele, M. LaTroy Williams, and Isaac Richmond. More are probably coming.

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