WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) condemned Mayor Willie W. Herenton’s racially-charged political attack in his campaign against Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) in Tennessee’s 9th district.
In an article from The New York Times on September 13, 2009, Herenton’s campaign justifies challenging Cohen on the grounds that the district “was set aside for people who look like” him and that “[ i [t wasn’t set aside for a Jew or a Christian.” Despite Cohen earning an “A” from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Times also reports that Herenton recently claimed in a radio interview that Cohen “does not think very much of African-Americans.”
“While NJDC does not usually speak out regarding Democratic primaries, we are deeply concerned by the developments in the congressional campaign in Tennessee’s 9th district between Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Mayor Willie W. Herenton,” said Ira N. Forman, NJDC’s CEO. “Herenton’s divisive rhetoric is unacceptable in a Democratic primary or anywhere in our political discourse.”
“Herenton’s apparent campaign strategy and deeply unfortunate, racially-charged comments are the type of tactics that were soundly rejected with the election of President Barack Obama last November,” said Forman. “Herenton must change his tone dramatically, and he owes the citizens of Tennessee’s 9th district—and their member of Congress—a higher level of discourse.”