"I am ready for this fight," said former Democratic Party Chairman Corey Strong, announcing his run for Congress. (Photo: George W. Tillman Jr.)

Corey Strong took the helm of a frayed, embattled Shelby County Democratic Party on August 5, 2017. On Friday, he announced a run for Congress, touting his leadership as a major component for crafting the local party’s turn-around.

The former Shelby County Democratic Party chairman has decided to challenge incumbent Steve Cohen for the Ninth Congressional District seat in the August 2020 primary election.

“Today is August 2, and it is the first anniversary of the historic blue wave that swept the (county) elections in 2018,” said Strong, declaring his intention during a gathering at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis. “Ten Republican seats had been flipped by the end of the night. And I am staking my claim as the leader and architect of that election cycle.

“That blue wave was made possible because of vision.”

While he commended Cohen for doing “some great things,” Strong extolled the power of vision, saying he has one for Memphis.

“I love Memphis, and I remember growing up here,” he said. “We were on our way. We were on the road to being that place where we were a part of the national conversation, but something happened; a detour. There would always be a detour.

“Well, I have a vision for this place, and that is why I am proud to announce my candidacy for the 9th Congressional District of the United States Congress.”

Rep. Steve Cohen

Cohen, who earlier announced that he planned to run and win in 2020 and again in 2022, was unavailable for comment at TSD press time, according to his aide, Rick Maynard.

“Congressman Cohen is on the Texas/Mexican border with 24 colleagues doing oversight and can’t presently be reached,” Maynard replied to an email inquiry.

Congressional Democrats are visiting holding facilities to get a first-hand look of conditions faced by immigrants being held in detention. The fact-finding trip comes amid reports of “children in cages, grossly overcrowded conditions, insufficient food supplies, and unsanitary toileting conditions.”

Cohen first won election to Congress in 2006 and has turned back a succession of challengers every two years since then.

He has had challengers in every Democratic primary since he won the Congressional seat in 2006,

Strong, a special projects director for Shelby County Schools, is a U.S. Navy veteran and reservist. His vision is for Memphis to enjoy a 21st-century economy that invests in its workers, not “seeing how much it could get out of workers.

“In the Navy, we have a saying about our priorities: ‘ship, shipmate and self.’ We must put the whole and the people around us before ourselves. Our leaders must sow into everybody. Don’t leave anyone behind…”

What does that have to do with being a congressman?

“It has everything to do with being a congressman,” he said. “A congressman is the national face of our city, the chief ambassador and partner to every facet of local leadership: in the city, county, chamber, every neighbor. He is our chief spokesman taking our message to the halls of Congress. …

“After crafting legislation and casting the votes you have sent me up there to cast, then my real job will begin, and that is bringing jobs back to the city. …We must bring jobs and investment, both public and private, to the heart of this city.”

Noting a history of service to country and community, Strong said he was “ready to serve more. …I look forward to speaking with (voters) about what they should expect from their representative. …

“I am ready for this fight.”