|United States Senator
December 27, 1978
Serving with Roger Wicker
|Preceded by||James Eastland|
|Succeeded by||Cindy Hyde-Smith (Designate)|
|Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee|
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Barbara Mikulski|
|Succeeded by||Richard Shelby (Designate)|
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Ted Stevens|
|Succeeded by||Robert Byrd|
|Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee|
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
January 3, 1973 – December 26, 1978
|Preceded by||Sonny Montgomery|
|Succeeded by||Jon Hinson|
|Born||William Thad Cochran
December 7, 1937
Pontotoc, Mississippi, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (1967–present)|
|Democratic (before 1967)|
|Spouse(s)||Rose Clayton (m. 1964; d. 2014)
Kay Webber (m. 2015)
|Education||University of Mississippi (BA, JD)|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1959–1961|
William Thad Cochran (//; born December 7, 1937) is an American politician of the Republican Party serving as the senior United States Senator for Mississippi, a seat he has held since 1978. He is second most senior Republican member after Orrin Hatch and chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee since 2015, previously holding the position from 2005 to 2007. He also chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee (2003–2005). Cochran won reelection to a seventh term in 2014, after defeating Chris McDaniel in a close primary run-off election. He is currently the dean of the Mississippi congressional delegation and the longest current-serving member of Congress. On March 5, 2018, he announced his intention to resign from the Senate on April 1 for health reasons.
- 1 Early life
- 2 U.S. House of Representatives
- 3 U.S. Senate
- 4 Electoral history
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Thad Cochran was born on December 7, 1937, 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. He graduated valedictorian from Byram High School near Jackson.
Cochran 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). He was elected to the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, and he worked as a lifeguard at Livingston Lake in Jackson during the summers.
After a time in the United States Navy (1959–1961), where he was commissioned an ensign aboard the USS Macon, Cochran received a J.D. degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1965. While in law school, he won the Frederick Hamel Memorial Award for having the highest scholastic average in the first year class and served on the editorial board of the Mississippi Law Journal. He then practiced law for seven years. In 1964 he married Rose Clayton, who died in 2014. The couple had two children. On May 23, 2015, Cochran married his longtime aide Kay Webber in a private ceremony in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Cochran grew up as a Democrat, but became a Republican sometime in the mid-to-late 1960s as the New Deal coalition collapsed. He served as head of Richard Nixon's Mississippi campaign in 1968.
U.S. 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 the 4th 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 (Prentiss Walker was the first in 1964).
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.
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%. This made Cochran the first Republican to win a statewide election in Mississippi in a century. Eastland resigned on December 26 to give Cochran a seniority advantage over other new incoming senators. Governor Cliff Finch appointed Cochran to serve the remaining week of Eastland's term.
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 primary challenge from Tea Party-supported 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.
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. While Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Cochran worked to expedite the process of approving spending bills to minimize partisan skirmishing. He was the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee from 2007 to 2014.
In June 1996 Cochran ran for the post of Senate Majority Leader to succeed Republican Bob Dole, who had resigned from the Senate to concentrate on his presidential campaign. Cochran faced his Mississippi colleague Trent Lott, the then-Senate Majority Whip. Cochran cast himself as an "institutionalist" and who would held to rebuild public trust in Congress through compromise over conflict. Lott promised a "more aggressive" style of leadership and courted the younger Senate conservatives. Cochran lost by 44 votes to 8.
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"
On June 13, 2005, the U.S. Senate formally apologized for its failure to enact a federal anti-lynching law in the early 20th century, "when it was most needed". The resolution was passed on a voice vote with 80 Senators cosponsoring. Cochran and fellow Mississippian Trent Lott were among the 20 Senators who did not join as cosponsors.
Time magazine article
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 wring "$29 billion out of his colleagues, almost double the money [President George W.] Bush and congressional leaders had initially pledged". Earlier, Cochran threatened to derail a defense appropriations bill unless it included funding for installations on the Gulf Coast.
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."
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.
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 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."
Cochran opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
In April 2013, 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.
Cochran voted to repeal a regulation that made it illegal for certain individuals with specific mental health diagnosis to purchase guns. The original law authorizing such regulation was passed with a unanimous vote in 2007 after the Virginia Tech shooting. Cochran claims the law infringed upon the Second Amendment rights of disabled people.
In 2017, Cochran was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging the President to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Cochran has received more than $290,000 from oil, gas and coal interests since 2012.
As senior senator of the state of Mississippi, Cochran was given the opportunity to use the desk of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, which Cochran accepted. Cochran said that he was "very proud" to have Davis's desk. Cochran opposed attempts to remove a statue of Davis from the U.S. Capitol.
In April 2015, a veteran staffer, personal assistant and office manager for the Senator named Fred Wesley Pagan was arrested and later indicted for possession with intent to distribute 181.5 grams of methamphetamine as well as importation of a kilo of another List 1 controlled drug called GBL. The accused staffer is the third highest paid employee of the Senator.
- 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. 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. The two pieces of land in question originally belonged to Mississippi, and were donated to the National Park Service when the NPS was trying to determine where to end the Natchez Trace Parkway. Since the NPS did not choose to use either of the pieces of land, the state would like the land back.
- 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." 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." 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."
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
- Committee on Appropriations (Chairman)
- Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (Ex Officio)
- Subcommittee on Defense (Chairman)
- Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
- Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (Ex Officio)
- Subcommittee on Homeland Security
- Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch (Ex Officio)
- Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (Ex Officio)
- Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (Ex Officio)
- Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (Ex Officio)
- Committee on Rules and Administration
- House/Senate International Education Study Group (Co-Chair)
- International Conservation Caucus
- Republican Task Force to Study the Energy Crisis
|Independent||Henry Jay Kirksey||1,747||0.3|
|Democratic||James W. "Bootie" Hunt||240,647||27.4|
|Mississippi's US Senate Republican Primary election, 2014|
|Republican||Thad Cochran (incumbent)||156,315||49.02%|
|Mississippi's US Senate Republican Primary Runoff election, 2014|
|Republican||Thad Cochran (incumbent)||194,972||51.01%|
The Cochran campaign denied allegations of vote buying made by a blogger regarding his primary run-off victory in 2014.
|Republican||Thad Cochran (Incumbent)||378,481||59.90|
- Todd, Chuck (June 4, 2014). "Mississippi Runoff Bad News for Thad Cochran". NBCNews.com. New York City: NBCUniversal. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- Burns, Alexander (June 24, 2014). "Cochran Wins". Politico. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
- "Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran announces he is stepping down". The Guardian. March 5, 2018. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
- "Sen. Thad Cochran". Mississippi Republican Party. Archived from the original on March 17, 2016. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
- Weeks, Linton (January 7, 1999). "Two From Ole Miss, Hitting It Big". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. p. C1. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
- "Delta State dedicates Thad Cochran Center for Rural School Leadership and Research - Delta State University". www.deltastate.edu. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
- "Ole Miss cheerleading squad". The Washington Post. January 8, 1999.
- "Thad Cochran Biography". Thad Cochran Senate. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
- "Wife of GOP Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi dies". USA Today. December 12, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
- "Cochran marries longtime aide Kay Webber". Retrieved January 22, 2018.
- Black, Earl; Merle Black (2003). The Rise of Southern Republicans. Harvard University Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-674-01248-6.
- "Results of Elections Across the Nation". The Blade. November 7, 1978. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
- Associated Press (December 27, 1978). "Eastland Quits Early To Aid His Successor". The Blade. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
- "Sen. Thad Cochran (R)". National Journal. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- David Hawkings (June 8, 2014). "What Cochran Vs. Lott Said About Today's GOP Civil War". Roll Call. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
- Committee On Rules - Announcements Archived September 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Thomas-Lester, Avis (June 14, 2005), "A Senate Apology for History on Lynching", The Washington Post, p. A12, Retrieved June 26, 2005.
- "Thad Cochran: The Quiet Persuader". Time. April 14, 2006. Archived from the original on February 13, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "Miss. Senator Leads Congress In Earmarks". WAPT. April 15, 2010. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
- "Cochran: Prepare now to lessen storm losses". The Delta Farm Press. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
- "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 1st Session". www.senate.gov. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
- "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- Bump, Philip (October 3, 2017). "Are Republican senators justified in being worried about the NRA?". Washington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
- Silver, Nate (April 18, 2013). "Modeling the Senate's Vote on Gun Control". The New York Times.
- Fowler, Sarah. "Cochran, Wicker vote to remove gun restrictions". USA TODAY. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
- Inhofe, James. "Senator". Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- "The Republicans who urged Trump to pull out of Paris deal are big oil darlings". The Guardian. June 1, 2017. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- "Mississippi Senators Defend Jefferson Davis". Roll Call. June 24, 2015. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
- Hess, Hannah. (April 24, 2015), "Cochran Staffer Confesses to Sex-for-Drugs Scheme, Feds Say." Hill Blotter (blog) Roll Call. Retrieved June 7, 2015.Roll Call website
- Hsu, Spencer S. & DeBonis, Mike. (April 24, 2015), "Longtime aide to Sen. Thad Cochran charged with drug possession". Washington Post. Retrieved June 7, 2015.Wash Post website
- "Congress passes bill to give city 'bean field' property". Natchez Democrat. September 11, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
- "S. 304 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
- "CBO - S. 304". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
- "House Republican Conference's Legislative Digest on S 304". House Republican Conference. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
- "Wicker, Cochran Sign on to Sportsmen's Legislative Package". Office of Senator Wicker. June 17, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Firearms Industry Thanks U.S. Sen. Cochran for Co-Sponsoring Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act". Sacramento Bee. PRNewswire. June 19, 2014. Archived from the original on June 20, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Our Campaigns - MS US Senate Race - Nov 07, 1978". www.ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
- "Our Campaigns - MS US Senate Race - Nov 05, 1996". www.ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
- "2002 ELECTION STATISTICS". clerk.house.gov. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
- "US Senate Election Official Certification" (PDF). Mississippi Secretary of State. Retrieved January 10, 2009.
- Pender, Geoff (July 2014). "Cochran campaign denies vote-buying reports". www.clarionledger.com. The Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "2014 General Elections". Mississippi Secretary of State. November 4, 2014. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thad Cochran.|
- Senator Thad Cochran official U.S. Senate site
- Senator Thad Cochran official campaign website
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Thad Cochran at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- An Unlikely Revolutionary, Part I and [permanent dead link] II, Interview and extensive background to comments by Perry Hicks for GulfCoastNews.com