Down-ballot: Cohen survives nasty primary, Franken hit by Dem opponent

If you thought Norm Coleman’s bowling alley ad was tough, think again. That spot accused Al Franken of “foul-mouthed” attacks, “tasteless, sexist jokes,” and “writing all that juicy porn.” Just as Franken had found a way to hit back yesterday and put the spotlight back on Coleman in the toughest ad exchange we have seen in any Senate race for now, here is a new ad - this one released by a Democrat - that hits Franken even more harshly:

Priscilla Lord Faris, an attorney who announced she was challenging Franken for the Democratic nomination just three weeks ago, released an attack ad centered on electability. The ad features nothing but Faris speaking directly to the camera. She says she used to believe Franken could defeat Coleman, but “his record of pornography and degradation of women and minorities and questionable financial transactions will be the source of blistering ads for the Republican attack machine.” That’s why Faris took it upon herself to inform the electorate of Franken’s baggage, in much harsher terms than Coleman probably ever would have - there is a huge leap between “tasteless, sexist jokes” and a “record of degradation of women and minorities.”

The Star Tribune reports that the ad doesn’t have that much money behind it, even less than the biographical spot her campaign released earlier this week - an ad that also features nothing but Faris talking to the camera for 30 seconds, without even any pictures of the events of her past she is describes. The camera doesn’t seem to be very stable - underscoring that this is not the best-funded campaign. But the attack ad on Franken is designed to get attention, and Minnesota media is talking about this. Faris is not a credible threat to Franken’s primary chances, but she might force him to spend even more time defending his past actions, jokes and writings.

While Minnesota is still three months away from winning the title of most brutal Senate race of the 2008 cycle, the House award might already have been wrapped up thanks to the nasty campaign Nikki Tinker ran in TN-09. This is the only Southern majority-minority district represented by a white congressman, Steve Cohen, who won with a plurality of the vote in a crowded primary 2 years ago. Tinker released two widely condemned ads this week comparing Cohen to a hooded Klansman and blaming him for entering “our churches” (there has been some argument about whether that implied “our Christian churches” or “our black churches,” but either way that line was as nasty as you can get and there is no reason that it couldn’t have gone for both attacks at once.)

Barack Obama and Harold Ford Jr. intervened today to blast Tinker’s tactics, which Obama called “incendiary.” The vote was held today and Cohen won in a triumphal rout, 79% to 19% - a huge progression since the roughly 30% he received two years ago. Cohen declared, “It says Memphis has come a long, long way and that people who were counting on racial voting to prevail are thinking of a Memphis that doesn’t exist anymore.” Cohen is safe for the general election.

Finally, some news out of KS-02. A few days ago, state Treasurer Jenkins defeated former Rep. Ryun for the GOP primary. There is disagreement over whether Jenkins’s nomination is a good or bad thing for Democratic incumbent Nancy Boyda - some say she is more moderate and will have an easier time uniting the feuding Kansas GOP, others say Ryun was better known and would have made the race more competitive. Either way, Jenkins is sure to give Boyda a run for her money - and the incumbent is now all on her own.

Boyda convinced the DCCC to not help in the general election. Boyda thinks that national Democrats being implicated in her re-election efforts in such a conservative district would give an opening to Jenkins, but it would also have given her the means to hit Jenkins without producing the negative ads herself. If the race is close in late October, Boyda may come to regret that she did not rely on her party’s committee and chose to unilaterally disarm. It is true that being too closely associated with the national party might hurt Boyda in such a red district, but voters rarely cast their ballot based on which group is supporting whom - after all, the DCCC aired plenty of ads on behalf of Cazayoux in LA-06 and Childers in MS-01. At least, Boyda’s refusal will make another Democrat very happy, as she just freed up the $1,2 million the DCCC had already budgeted for her race.

Update: Jaxx Raxor points out that a Republican (first-term) incumbent lost his primary yesterday in TN-01. Indeed, Rep. Davis is the fourth incumbent to fall this year and the first in four decades from Tennessee. I did not have much to say about the race but you can check out The Hill for more information!

3 Responses to “Down-ballot: Cohen survives nasty primary, Franken hit by Dem opponent”


  1. 1 Joe from NC

    I’m glad Cohen survived that primary by such a large margin.
    As for the MN senate race, I’ve always thought that nominating Al Franken was a bad idea, but I am afraid it’s too late for anyone to challenge him. I don’t think Faris has enough time to beat him, and even if she does, she won’t have near the name recognition.

  2. 2 Jaxx Raxor

    Joe, I’m also happy that Cohen won his primary, and by such a large margin at that. Tinker’s ads were racist and anti-semetic (and I’m part black), and its apparent that Cohen’s mostly black constiuents disapproved of her digusting ads. I hope Cohen’s victory is a message to other black candidates to not use race (and anti-semtisim) in an attempt to win an election. Tinker’s ads are a one of the main reasons why white Americans are suspcious of black politicions and of African Americans in general. That they use racism against whites to get votes/services but are the direct opposite when whites use racism against blacks.

    On the MN race, Franken had said that if the DFL had another candiate they wanted to run in the primary, that he would step aside. The fact that no current Democratic officeholder in Minnesota decided to jump into the race shows much for granted the Democrats took the Minnesota race.

  3. 3 Jaxx Raxor

    Oh I just forgot: Taniel, Cohen may have survived his primary easily but another incumbent, TN-1 Rep David Davis (a freshman) lost his primary.

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