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August 09, 2008

Cohen: EMILY's List Needs To Apologize

After fending off racially- and religiously-charged attacks to capture a surprisingly big win in his bid for re-nomination, Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen is pulling no punches, suggesting a prominent organization that backed his opponent needs to apologize to its members.

Cohen beat former Congressional aide Nikki Tinker, who benefited from support from EMILY's List, which helps pro-choice Democratic women running for Congress, by a wide 79%-19% margin. "EMILY's List has got egg all over their face, yellow and white both all over their faces," Cohen said on XM Radio's Politics Nation, hosted by your Scorecard authors.

Tinker, who is African American, ran television advertisements associating Cohen, who is white, with the Ku Klux Klan in a district in which 60% of the population is black. Later, Tinker hit Cohen, who is also Jewish, for voting against prayer in schools while a young child recites a prayer, which many thought bordered on anti-Semitism.

"I said it's going to get dirty, there's going to be some things said at the end that are going to be unbelievable," Cohen said. EMILY's List condemned one of the advertisements in the campaign's final days, a move Cohen said wasn't enough. "Their money is what paid for these ads. They raised [Tinker's] money."

The group's president, Ellen Malcolm, reached out after the primary, Cohen said. Malcolm "called me and she was trying to act like she'd done me some great favor by renouncing that [advertisement], and I said, 'You know, the election was over. Your money that you got from your members who didn't know what this race was about, didn't know what my record was, didn't know about this lady, you paid for those ads.'"

"The members of EMILY's List are owed an apology from Ellen Malcolm for not having a better vetting process," Cohen added.

As for Tinker, her second loss in races against Cohen could spell the end of her political ambitions as Cohen solidifies his own hold on the heavily-Democratic district. "This was her second time to run. Baseball, you get three strikes. Politics, you generally get two," he said. Asked if he expected another difficult challenge, Cohen was confident: "After Sonny Liston beat Floyd Patterson twice, Floyd didn't ask for a third match," he said.

Two EMILY's List officials did not respond to emails seeking comment.