Votes were still coming in at 8:40 p.m. on Thursday when attorney Ricky E. Wilkins made his entrance into his campaign headquarters. His opponent, Steve Cohen, who has held the 9th Congressional District seat since 2007, was in the lead, but it didn’t disturb the hopeful attitudes and confidence of Wilkins and the many supporters on hand.
“It’s been a long road,” Wilkins said. “We had a campaign strategy that we executed and I’m very happy about the execution of the strategy. We gained momentum as time went on and I’m feeling real good about standing here tonight.”
Despite that feeling, Cohen won in what he termed “a landslide.” With 100 percent of the precincts reporting: Cohen – 45, 366 votes (66.15 percent), Wilkins – 22,311 (32.53 percent), Isaac Richmond – 872 (1.27 percent).
“Locally, we’re going to serve our constituents. Nationally, we’re going to stand with President Barack Obama. And we’re going to continue to be on the cutting edge,” said Cohen, who will face Republican Charlotte Bergmann in the General Election in November.
The polls had not be closed two hours when John Marek, Cohen’s campaign manager, called for supporters, employees and volunteers to head downstairs of 409 S. Main Street where the Congressman would make his victory speech.
The crowd quickly danced to the bottom and upper lobby levels to the guitar strums of “Stand by Me,” which Cohen dedicated to his supporters.
“This was a very difficult fight,” Cohen said of the challenge provided by Wilkins and his supporters.
“To them we say, ‘You ran a good race, we thank you for your competition and we wish you Godspeed.’”
Wilkins – an attorney – ran his platform on change, defeating poverty, improving the conditions of Memphis and bringing more jobs into the city.
“We put the best campaign forward we could. I tried to run the most honorable campaign I knew how. I feel good about that,” said Wilkins, as he waited to see how the night would unfold.
The morning after the election, Wilkins said he had no regrets.
“I wanted a different outcome, but I am very pleased with what we were able to do. I’m going to sit down and analyze everything. The decision to run for public office is one that requires a great deal of thought and deliberation,” said Wilkins.
“We offered to the community a candidate and a platform that many people embraced. I wish we could’ve gotten more people involved in the electoral process to come out and participate in the vote. But in terms of the campaign itself, no regrets about the way we handled it. I’m pleased with the product we presented to the community.”