Thad Cochran

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This article is about the U.S. Senator from Mississippi. For other people with a similar name, see William Cochran (disambiguation).
Thad Cochran
CochranThad(R-MS).jpg
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran
United States Senator
from Mississippi
Incumbent
Assumed office
December 27, 1978
Serving with Roger Wicker
Preceded by James O. Eastland
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
In office
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Ted Stevens
Succeeded by Robert Byrd
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Tom Harkin
Succeeded by Saxby Chambliss
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – December 26, 1978
Preceded by Sonny Montgomery
Succeeded by Jon Hinson
Personal details
Born William Thad Cochran
(1937-12-07) December 7, 1937 (age 76)
Pontotoc, Mississippi
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Rose Clayton Cochran
Children Clayton Cochran
Kate Cochran
Residence Jackson, Mississippi
Alma mater University of Mississippi (B.A., J.D.)
Occupation Attorney
Religion Southern Baptist[1]
Website cochran.senate.gov
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1959-1961

William Thad Cochran (born December 7, 1937) is the senior United States Senator from Mississippi and a member of the Republican Party. First elected to the Senate in 1978, he is currently the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, having previously chaired that Committee from 2003 to 2005 and also chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee from 2005 to 2007. Cochran is the third most-senior Senator and the second most-senior Republican member. Cochran is running for reelection in 2014, and is the Republican nominee after defeating Chris McDaniel in a run-off election.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Cochran was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, the son of Emma Grace (née Berry) and William Holmes Cochran, a teacher and school principal, respectively. His family settled in Hinds County, Mississippi, home of the state capital, Jackson, in 1946 after a few moves around the northern part of the state. Cochran still lives in Jackson today. Cochran earned Eagle Scout as a youth and was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award as an adult. He graduated valedictorian[4] from Byram High School near Jackson.

He then received a B.A. degree from the University of Mississippi with a major in psychology and a minor in political science in 1959. There he joined the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and was on the cheerleading squad (fellow senator Trent Lott was also an Ole Miss cheerleader).[5] After a time in the United States Navy (1959–1961), he attended the University of Mississippi School of Law, was elected to the Phi Kappa Phi honor society and graduated in 1965. He then practiced law for seven years. He married Rose Clayton on June 6, 1964; the couple has two children, Clayton and Kate.

Cochran grew up as a Democrat, but became a Republican sometime in the mid-to-late 1960s as the New Deal coalition collapsed.[citation needed] He served as head of Richard Nixon's Mississippi campaign in 1968.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Cochran during his time in the House of Representatives

In 1972, Democratic Congressman Charles H. Griffin of Mississippi's 3rd congressional district decided not to run for a third full term. Cochran won the Republican nomination for the Jackson-based district, which was renumbered as Mississippi's 4th congressional district after redistricting. He defeated Democratic state senator Ellis B. Bodron by 47.9% to 44%. A factor in Cochran's victory was the strong Republican showing in that year's presidential election. Richard Nixon won most of the counties in the 4th district by over 70 percent of the vote. Hinds County, for instance, gave him 77 percent, en route to taking 78 percent of Mississippi's popular vote. The Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate that year, Gil Carmichael, an automobile dealer from Meridian, finished with 38 percent of the vote against James Eastland but was shunned by the statewide Nixon campaign.

That year, Cochran and Trent Lott (who later served alongside him in the U.S. Senate) became the second and third Republicans to be elected to represent Mississippi in the House of Representatives since Reconstruction.

Cochran quickly became very popular in his district, even though almost none of its living residents had been represented by a Republican before. He was handily re-elected with 70.2% in 1974, a year in which anger over the Watergate scandal caused several Republicans to lose their seats. He was re-elected with an even larger 76% of the vote in 1976.

U.S. Senate[edit]

Elections[edit]

In 1978, six-term Democratic Senator James Eastland decided to retire. Cochran ran for the seat and won the Republican primary, defeating State Senator and former Jones County prosecutor Charles W. Pickering, 69-31 percent. In the general election, he faced Democrat Maurice Dantin, a former District Attorney who had triumphed in a four-way primary with the backing of Eastland, and Independent candidate Charles Evers, the Mayor of Fayette. Evers, the first African-American to be elected Mayor of a Mississippi town since Reconstruction, split the Democratic vote and Cochran won with a plurality, taking 45.3% to Dantin's 31.8% and Evers' 22.6%.[6] This made Cochran the first Republican to win a statewide election in Mississippi in a century.[7] Eastland resigned on December 27 to give Cochran a seniority advantage over new incoming senators. Governor Cliff Finch appointed Cochran to serve the remaining week of Eastland's term.[8]

Cochran faced an expected strong challenge for re-election from incumbent Democratic Governor William Winter in 1984, but he was re-elected easily, 60.9 to 39. 1 percent. For decades, Cochran did not face a serious challenger. He was completely unopposed in 1990 and took 71 percent of the vote in 1996. The Democratic nominee, Bootie Hunt, a retired factory worker, received 27.4 percent. No Democrat ran against him in 2002 and he faced only Reform Party candidate Shawn O'Hara, beating him by 84.6 to 15.4 percent. He faced his first serious challenger in twenty-four years in 2008 when the Democrats nominated State Representative Erik R. Fleming. In a year that saw widespread Democratic gains, Cochran was still re-elected, 61.4-37.6 percent. In 2014, Cochran faced a challenge from Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel. Since neither candidate won 50% in the Republican primary, a run-off election was held; Cochran narrowly defeated McDaniel in the run-off to win the Republican nomination for a seventh term in the Senate.[3]

Tenure[edit]

If Cochran completes his current term, he will pass Eastland as the second-longest serving Senator in Mississippi's history. Until 1989, Cochran served alongside Democrat John C. Stennis, the longest-serving Senator in Mississippi's history. As of 2014 he is the third-longest currently-serving Senator, and the second-longest serving Republican.

Generally, Cochran keeps a lower national profile than conventional wisdom would suggest for a six-term Senator. This stands in marked contrast to Eastland, Stennis and Lott. However, Cochran has considerable influence behind the scenes, especially in Mississippi. This is not surprising given his status as the "elder statesman" of the state Republican Party.

Cochran served as Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference from 1985 to 1991 and as Chairman from 1991 to 1996. He is its only former Chairman currently in the Senate. He Chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee from 2003 to 2005. In 2005, he was appointed as Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, making him the first Republican from a former Confederate state to chair the committee. He is currently the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee.

His colleagues have honored him. In 2005, an agricultural appropriations bill proposed by the Committee Cochran chaired contained a provision (sec. 782) that said:

The Federal facility located at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, Mississippi, and known as the "Southern Horticultural Laboratory", shall be known and designated as the "Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory"[9]

In April 2006, he was selected by Time as one of "America's 10 Best Senators". He was dubbed "The Quiet Persuader" for his role in winning money for the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He managed to win "$29 billion out of his colleagues, almost double the money [President George W.] Bush and congressional leaders had initially pledged".[10] Earlier, Cochran threatened to derail a defense appropriations bill unless it included funding for installations on the Gulf Coast.[10]

The article also noted that Cochran has "gained the trust of the Administration and Capitol Hill for his quiet, courtly manner... using his experience and mastery of the issues to persuade his colleagues privately rather than making demands on them in public". The magazine quoted an unnamed "senior GOP Senator" who said "He doesn't get a whole lot of play in terms of coverage, but he is effectively stubborn doing what needs to be done."[10]

On July 18, 2006, Cochran voted, along with 19 Republican Senators, for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act to lift restrictions on federal funding for the research.

In 2005, he was one of nine senators who voted against the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which prohibited "inhumane treatment of prisoners, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay". The others, all Republicans, were Wayne Allard, Kit Bond, Tom Coburn, Jeff Sessions, Jim Inhofe, Pat Roberts, John Cornyn and Ted Stevens.

In March 2009, his former aide, Ann Copland, pled guilty to swapping legislative favors for event tickets and other gifts from lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Copland worked for Cochran for 29 years.[11] Cochran has not been indicted for any charges in connection to Jack Abramoff.

Cochran opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[12] and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[13]

In April 2010, it was reported that Cochran finished at the top of the Citizens Against Government Waste's list of congressional earmarks, having requested a total of $490 million in earmarks.[14]

In 2012, Cochran encouraged Mississippians to prepare for the effects of Tropical Storm Isaac, saying “Taking steps now to protect people and property should help lessen the losses that might be associated with Isaac. It is important that everyone stay informed and follow emergency orders. I am confident that Mississippians have learned valuable lessons from previous storms and will work together to prepare for this newest threat, I believe Governor Bryant and others are handling emergency preparedness actions very well.”[15]

In April 2013, Senator Cochran was one of forty-six senators to vote against the passing of a bill which would have expanded background checks for gun buyers. Cochran voted with 40 Republicans and 5 Democrats to stop the passage of the bill.[16]

Legislation sponsored[edit]

  • The Natchez Trace Parkway Land Conveyance Act of 2013 (S. 304; 113th Congress) (S. 304) is a bill that was sponsored and actively lobbied for by Thad Cochran during the 113th United States Congress.[17][18] The bill would require the National Park Service (NPS) to convey about 67 acres of property in the Natchez Trace Parkway to the state of Mississippi. The legislation also would adjust the boundaries of the parkway to include 10 additional acres.[19] The two pieces of land in question originally belong to Mississippi and were donated to the National Park Service when the NPS was trying to determine where to end the Natchez Trace Parkway.[20][17] Since the NPS did not choose to use either of theses pieces of land, the state would like the land back.[20]
  • The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014 (S. 2363; 113th Congress), a bill related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation in the United States, aimed at improving "the public's ability to enjoy the outdoors."[21] Cochran supported the bill, arguing that the bill "deserves broad support for its policies and reforms that will protect and enhance opportunities to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors."[21] The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) supported the bill and thanked Cochran for his support, saying that "Senator Cochran's advocacy will help in the fight to promote, preserve, and protect our cherished outdoor heritage and defend against the radical anti-hunting activists determined to derail this important legislation."[22]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

1978
Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1978[23]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Thad Cochran 267,302 45.3
Democratic Maurice Dantin 187,541 31.8
Independent Charles Evers 133,646 22.6
Independent Henry Jay Kirksey 1,747 0.3
1984
Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1984[24]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Thad Cochran 580,314 60.9
Democratic William Winter 371,926 39.1
1990
Mississippi United States Senate election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Thad Cochran 274,244 100.00
Majority 274,244 100.00
Turnout 274,244
1996
Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1996[24]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Thad Cochran 624,154 71.0
Democratic James W. "Bootie" Hunt 240,647 27.4
Independent Ted Weill 13,861 1.6
2002
General election results[25]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Thad Cochran 533,269 84.58
Reform Shawn O'Hara 97,226 15.42
Majority 436,043 69.16
Turnout 630,495
  Republican hold
2008
General election results[26]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Thad Cochran 766,111 61.44% -23.2
Democratic Erik Fleming 480,915 38.56% n/a
Majority 285,196
Turnout 1,247,026
Republican hold Swing
2014

The Cochran campaign denied allegations of vote buying made by a blogger regarding his primary run-off victory in 2014.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Strode, Tom (November 6, 2002). "Carnahan only Southern Baptist in Congress to lose election". Baptist Press. Retrieved April 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ Todd, Chuck (June 4, 2014). "Mississippi Runoff Bad News for Thad Cochran". NBCNews.com (New York City: NBCUniversal). Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Burns, Alexander (24 June 2014). "COCHRAN WINS". Politico. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Weeks, Linton (January 7, 1999). "Two From Ole Miss, Hitting It Big". The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). p. C1. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Ole Miss cheerleading squad". The Washington Post. January 8, 1999. 
  6. ^ Black, Earl; Merle Black (2003). The Rise of Southern Republicans. Harvard University Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-674-01248-6. 
  7. ^ "Results of Elections Across the Nation". The Blade. November 7, 1978. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 
  8. ^ Associated Press (December 27, 1978). "Eastland Quits Early To Aid His Successor". The Blade. Retrieved April 19, 2010. 
  9. ^ Committee On Rules - Announcements
  10. ^ a b c "Thad Cochran: The Quiet Persuader". Time. April 14, 2006. Archived from the original on February 13, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  11. ^ The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03/10/washington/AP-Abramoff-Senate-Aide.html |url= missing title (help). [dead link]
  12. ^ U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  13. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Miss. Senator Leads Congress In Earmarks". WAPT. April 15, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 
  15. ^ "The Delta Farm Press - Cochran: Prepare now to lessen storm losses". The Delta Farm Press. The Delta Farm Press. Retrieved September 2, 2012. 
  16. ^ Silver, Nate (April 18, 2013). "Modeling the Senate's Vote on Gun Control". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ a b "Congress passes bill to give city 'bean field' property". Natchez Democrat. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "S. 304 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  19. ^ "CBO - S. 304". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "House Republican Conference's Legislative Digest on S 304". House Republican Conference. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  21. ^ a b "Wicker, Cochran Sign on to Sportsmen's Legislative Package". Office of Senator Wicker. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  22. ^ "Firearms Industry Thanks U.S. Sen. Cochran for Co-Sponsoring Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act". Sacramento Bee. PRNewswire. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  23. ^ Ourcampaigns.com
  24. ^ a b Ourcampaigns.com
  25. ^ 2002 ELECTION STATISTICS
  26. ^ "US Senate Election Official Certification". Mississippi Secretary of State. Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  27. ^ Pender, Geoff (1 July 014). "Cochran campaign denies vote-buying reports". www.clarionledger.com (The Clarion-Ledger). Retrieved 02 July 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Articles
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sonny Montgomery
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th congressional district

January 3, 1973 – December 26, 1978
Succeeded by
Jon Hinson
United States Senate
Preceded by
James O. Eastland
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Mississippi
December 27, 1978 – present
Served alongside: John C. Stennis, Trent Lott, Roger Wicker
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Harkin
Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee
2003–2005
Succeeded by
Saxby Chambliss
Preceded by
Ted Stevens
Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee
2005–2007
Succeeded by
Robert C. Byrd
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gil Carmichael
Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from Mississippi
(class 2)

1978, 1984, 1990, 1996, 2002, 2008, 2014
Current holder
Preceded by
Jake Garn
(Utah)
Vice-Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
1985–1991
Succeeded by
Bob Kasten
(Wisconsin)
Preceded by
John H. Chafee
(Rhode Island)
Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
1991–1997
Succeeded by
Connie Mack III
(Florida)
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Orrin Hatch
R-Utah
United States Senators by seniority
3rd
Succeeded by
Carl Levin
D-Michigan