MEMPHIS, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- A white Jewish congressman in a majority black district in Memphis beat a controversial Democratic primary challenger Thursday, election returns showed.
Rep. Steve Cohen easily defeated Nikki Tinker, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. He won 79 percent of the vote, while she had 19 percent.
"It says Memphis has come a long, long way and that people who were counting on racial voting to prevail are thinking of a Memphis that doesn't exist anymore," Cohen said. "The people of Memphis are more sophisticated voters that deal with issues and someone's record and not simply race."
Tinker in the final days of the campaign ran a television ad that included footage of the Ku Klux Klan. Another commercial attacked Cohen for going to services at black churches and then voting against a 1997 Tennessee measure Tinker said would have allowed prayer in schools.
The commercials brought her rebukes from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, who called the commercials "incendiary and personal" and former Rep. Harold Ford Jr., an African-American who represented the district for 10 years.
There is no declared Republican candidate in the district.