Now that the professional association between U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) and his former longtime aide Randy Wade appears to be over, the door could be open for a political challenger to Cohen in 2014.
If Tuesday's news conference was any indication, Wade is determined to find that person. Any challenger, though, had better be more than a sacrificial lamb.
For years they were as inseparable as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and Franklin and Bash. But all relationships can become strained with time especially in the supercharged arena of politics.
There's just no need to get nasty about it.
"It's about my name. It's not about bashing Steve Cohen," said Wade. "It's not about disputing what he's saying. It's about my name, gentlemen."
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"I have also sent the word out that I'm calling for a people's convention and that way we can get a consensus candidate and it'll be a one on one," Wade said.
While anger or the thoughts of revenge can prove to be immediate motivators, it can have a short shelf-life when applied to the often cold and calculated arena of politics. Wade says he has contacted civic leaders and some in the faith-based community about help in finding an opponent for Rep. Cohen, who has soundly vanquished all since being elected in 2006 after surviving a crowded primary in May of that year.
"Randy Wade trying to find a consensus candidate is going to be difficult," said Berje Yacoubian, a Memphis pollster and analyst. "Because no one is going to want to be a sacrificial lamb unless they can raise maybe $3 million. Because Steve can raise any amount of money he wants to."
As an incumbent, Rep. Cohen sports another major advantage brought on by the nature of his office. When you're a congressman elected to two-year terms you're always on the clock.
"They're pretty much in perpetual re-election mode because of the shortness of their terms," said Bill Dries, Memphis Daily News reporter. "So, his campaign machinery, as with many congressmen, it probably stays in place to a certain degree.
"If you're going to have some kind of controversy, a falling out like this, this is probably the best time to have it," Dries added.
Yet, this personal meltdown among once friends and political allies, just might provide someone with an unexpected opportunity to at least do a little fishing for possible support. If you don't find it, there's still plenty of time to jump out of the water.
"I've been hearing for two weeks that Lee Harris has a push poll which asked people to compare his credentials against those of Ophelia Ford or Steve Cohen indicating he might be considering both those races," said Jackson Baker.
But, what seems a foregone conclusion is the split between Wade and Congressman Cohen has reached chasm proportions. If it were a marriage, mark it as a divorce due to apparent irreconcilable differences.
"He was a good sergeant-at-arms for the congressman," Baker said. "Now to have him on another side, which could very well be the case, would make a race all that more interesting."
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