Who Is This Man, and Why Is He, er, Steve Cohen Smiling? 

In a surprise (but unanimous) decision, the Shelby County Election Commission on Thursday approved the petition of State Representative Joe Towns, Jr., as a candidate in the Democratic primary for the 9th congressional district.

It should be remembered, however, that Towns' name was on the 9th District primary ballot in 2006, but his minimal to non-existent campaigning earned him an insignificant vote total.

Moreover, Towns is also on the ballot -- unopposed -- for his District 84 seat. That circumstance might enable him to undertake some serious campaigning for the congressional seat. It could also lead in the other direction -- to a complacency that results in little campaigning of any kind.

Adherents of Rep. Cohen, who had been looking at a de facto one-to-one race between the incumbent and challenger Tinker, will surely welcome Town's presence in the race.

Towns was not originally included by the Election Commission in last week's semi-official qualifying list because of apparent discrepancies in the address listed by one of Towns' 25 signatories.

Those discrepeancies were resolved this week, however -- both in the office of state Election Coordinator Brook Thompson and by the Shelby County Election Commission staff and by commission attorney Moneice Tate, who reported in favor of Towns' eligibility.

The commmission's three Democrats and two Republicans concurred, and, as of Thursday, which was the last day for withdrawals, finalized the 9th District Democratic ballot for August 7th as consisting of Cohen, Tinker, Towns, James Gregory, Isaac Richmond, and M. Latroy Williams.

Three independents --Jake Ford, Mary "Taylor Shelby" Wright, and Dewey Clark are also on the November general election ballot.

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