Jim Cooper’s reelection run: ‘Oftentimes I feel like I am the only adult in the room’

Unabashedly moderate Democrat Jim Cooper doesn’t like much of what is going on in Washington these days, reports the Tennessean, but he’s seeking another term and likely to get it despite Republican talk to the contrary.

“Oftentimes I feel like I am the only adult in the room, or the only one acting like an adult,” Cooper said.
…This year, Cooper, having turned 60 in June, is again offering a moderate record and professorial demeanor to voters of the 5th Congressional District, seeking his seventh consecutive term and 13th overall. Cooper has served from January 1983 to January 1995 and from January 2003 to the present.

He left temporarily after losing the 1994 U.S. Senate race to Republican Fred Thompson.

Four Republicans — Chris Carter of Franklin, Ronnie Holden of Madison, Bob Ries of Nashville and John “Big John” Smith of Nashville — are running in the Aug. 7 primary for the right to oppose him in November. There is also one independent, Paul Deakin of Nashville.

Tennessee Republicans suspect Obama’s falling approval ratings — and a still-tepid economic recovery — mean trouble for Cooper.

“Overall voters are dissatisfied with a Democratic-led Washington, D.C.,” said Brent Leatherwood, executive director of the state Republican Party.

In general elections for the House, however, Cooper has never gotten less than 64 percent of the vote. And while the rest of Tennessee has gone red politically, Nashville and Memphis stay blue.

Political analysts don’t expect a change anytime soon.

Bruce Oppenheimer, an expert on Tennessee politics at Vanderbilt University, said the 5th and the 9th (Memphis) congressional districts “are unlike the other seven House districts in their partisan composition. They’re more urban, more minority and more Democratic.”

While Republican state legislators made noises about carving up Davidson County during redistricting, Oppenheimer said, they were stopped by Cooper’s GOP colleagues, who didn’t want more Democrats in their districts.

And David Kanervo, a political science professor emeritus at Austin Peay State University, said “a winning coalition can be easily constructed in his district and not much incentive exists for a strong Republican challenger to be recruited to oppose him.”