On Cooper vs. Ries in 5th Congressional District

Bob Ries, who once campaigned for Robert F. Kennedy and says he’s still “a philosophical Democrat,” is the Republican nominee against Jim Cooper, the Democratic congressman holding the 5th Congressional District seat. In a review of the race, The Tennessean reports that — perhaps not surprisingly — President Obama is a topic.

After running unsuccessfully in the Fifth Congressional District Republican primaries in 2010 and 2012 — when he lost by a mere 40 votes — Ries won this year’s four-man GOP race by 8 percentage points. But he has a lot of work to do this fall to defeat Cooper, who’s seeking a seventh two-year term representing the predominantly Democratic district that covers all of Davidson and Dickson counties and part of Cheatham County.

“He’s sucking up a seat, and that’s not fair,” said Ries, 74, who promised not to serve more than six years. “People have an alternative.”

But Cooper, 60, has a national profile, thanks to his efforts to reform Congress’s work ethic and the federal government’s budget practices. His “No Budget, No Pay” bill, which became law on a temporary basis last year, prohibits members of Congress from getting paid if they fail to pass a budget on time.

The self-described “nerd” said an upcoming article in The New Yorker would mention some of his proposals.

“Nobody’s more critical of the failures of Congress than I am,” Cooper said in an interview Thursday at Fido as two young campaign aides looked on. “Most (congressional) committees don’t really work anymore. This Congress has been so bad, we even had to work to keep Congress from shutting itself down. I’ve never been party to those destructive efforts.”

…Cooper also has a personal touch that has translated well in Middle Tennessee, where he freely gives out his cell phone number during his many public appearances.

“I welcome people’s suggestions,” he said, adding that he’s received just one “semi-obscene” call since he started passing out the number.

But Ries, a businessman and Army veteran who sometimes plays up his passing resemblance to the late football broadcaster Howard Cosell (even wearing a nearly flourescent yellow sport coat), said Cooper should be held accountable for voting for Obamacare, the controversial 2010 health care reform law. He said the law, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, violates the U.S. Constitution in several ways and shows that President Barack Obama doesn’t have the nation’s best interests at heart.

He called Obama “an absolute piece of cowardly puke.”