By JESSICA TAYLOR, Politico
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) has received a $5,000 donation from the Congressional Black Caucus political action committee, only the latest signal that national African-American leaders are firmly behind the white congressman as he fights back a primary challenge in his black-majority district.
The donation to Cohenâ€™s reelection bid Monday comes slightly more than a week beforeÂ he and former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton face off Aug. 5 in the Democratic primary.
Herenton, a longtime local pol, has made race a central theme of his campaign by arguing that Tennessee should have at least one African-American member in its delegation and that the two-term representative cannot effectively represent the needs of the district. But the CBCâ€™s contribution is only the latest in a string of high-profile endorsements Cohen has scored over Herentonâ€”including President Obama, former civil rights movement leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and more than a dozen CBC members.
â€œThe CBC PACâ€™s mission is to increase the number of African-Americans in the U.S. Congress (and) to support non-black candidates who champion CBC interests,â€ PAC Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said in his letter that accompanies the check to Cohen. â€œYou have been selected to receive this contribution because of your commitment to the CBC PACâ€™s goals.â€
Itâ€™s the first time Cohen has gotten the CBCâ€™s financial backing. After he first won a crowded Democratic primary in 2006, Cohen faced a primary challenge in 2008 from African-American attorney Nikki Tinker, who got a $5,000 donation from the CBC and had the backing of several of its members. But those endorsements would prove irrelevant as Cohen rolled to a 60-point landslide.
In a statement to POLITICO, Cohen said the donation was a recognition of his work on behalf of African-American interests.
â€œI am grateful and honored that the Congressional Black Caucus PAC has recognized my work with a contribution for my re-election to the United States Congress,â€ said Cohen. â€œI am eager to continue building on the strong relationships Iâ€™ve built with the Congressional Black Caucus and committed to championing the issues and goals I share with the CBC PAC for the benefit of the 9th Congressional District.â€
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