Thad Cochran

This article is about the U.S. Senator from Mississippi. For other people with a similar name, see William Cochran (disambiguation).
Thad Cochran

Cochran in 2007
United States Senator
from Mississippi
Assumed office
December 27, 1978
Serving with Roger Wicker
Preceded by James Eastland
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded by Barbara Mikulski
In office
January 3, 2005  January 3, 2007
Preceded by Ted Stevens
Succeeded by Robert Byrd
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture
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 27, 1978
Preceded by Sonny Montgomery
Succeeded by Jon Hinson
Personal details
Born William Thad Cochran
(1937-12-07) December 7, 1937
Pontotoc, Mississippi, U.S.
Political party Democratic (Before 1967)
Republican (1967–present)
Spouse(s) Rose Clayton (1964–2014; her death)
Kay Webber (2015–present)
Children Clayton
Alma mater University of Mississippi
Religion Southern Baptist
Website Senate website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1959–1961

William Thad Cochran (born December 7, 1937) is an American Republican politician. He is the current senior United States Senator from Mississippi (the third most-senior Senator and the second most-senior Republican member), first elected to the Senate in 1978, and the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he had also chaired from 2005 to 2007. He also chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee from 2003 to 2005. Cochran won reelection to a seventh term in 2014, after defeating Chris McDaniel in an intense primary run-off election.[1][2] He is currently the dean of the Mississippi congressional delegation.

Early life

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.[3] Cochran earned Eagle Scout as a youth and was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award as an adult.[4] He graduated valedictorian[5] from Byram High School near Jackson.[6]

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.[6] There he joined the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and was on the cheerleading squad (fellow senator Trent Lott was also an Ole Miss cheerleader).[7] He was elected to the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. He worked as a lifeguard at Livingston Lake in Jackson during the summers.[8]

After a time in the United States Navy (1959–1961), where he was commissioned an ensign aboard the USS Macon. He graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law, receiving a J.D. degree 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.[8] He then practiced law for seven years. In 1964 he married Rose Clayton, who died in 2014. The couple had two children.[9] On May 23, 2015, Cochran married his longtime aide Kay Webber in a private ceremony in Gulfport, Mississippi.[10]

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

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 (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.

U.S. Senate


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%.[11] This made Cochran the first Republican to win a statewide election in Mississippi in a century.[12] 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.[13]

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.[2]


If Cochran completes his seventh term, he will become the longest-serving senator in Mississippi's history, passing John C. Stennis.

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. While Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Cochran worked to expedite the process of approving spending bills to minimize partisan skirmishing.[14] He was the ranking Republican on the Agriculture 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.[15]

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"[16]

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.[17]

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".[18] Earlier, Cochran threatened to derail a defense appropriations bill unless it included funding for installations on the Gulf Coast.[18]

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."[18]

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, pleaded guilty to swapping legislative favors for event tickets and other gifts from lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Copland worked for Cochran for 29 years.[19] 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,[20] and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[21]

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.[22]

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."[23]

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.[24]

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 controlled drug called GBL.[25] The accused staffer is the third highest paid employee of the Senator.[26]

The Senator is currently the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee when the Republicans took back the Senate November 2014.

Legislation sponsored

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Electoral history

Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1978[33]
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
Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1984[34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Thad Cochran 580,314 60.9
Democratic William Winter 371,926 39.1
Mississippi United States Senate election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Thad Cochran 274,244 100.00
Majority 274,244 100.00
Turnout 274,244
Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1996[34]
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
General election results[35]
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
General election results[36]
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
Mississippi's US Senate Republican Primary election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Chris McDaniel 157,733 49.46%
Republican Thad Cochran (incumbent) 156,315 49.02%
Republican Thomas Carey 4,854 1.52%
Mississippi's US Senate Republican Primary Runoff election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Thad Cochran (incumbent) 194,972 51.01%
Republican Chris McDaniel 187,249 48.99%

The Cochran campaign denied allegations of vote buying made by a blogger regarding his primary run-off victory in 2014.[37]

Mississippi's US senate election, 2014[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Travis Childers 239,439 37.89
Republican Thad Cochran (Incumbent) 378,481 59.90
Reform Shawn O'Hara 13,938 2.21
Total votes 631,858 100
Republican hold


  1. Todd, Chuck (June 4, 2014). "Mississippi Runoff Bad News for Thad Cochran". New York City: NBCUniversal. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  2. 1 2 Burns, Alexander (24 June 2014). "COCHRAN WINS". Politico. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  3. "Mississippi Republican Party » Sen. Thad Cochran". Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  4. "Congress and Scouting". Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  5. Weeks, Linton (January 7, 1999). "Two From Ole Miss, Hitting It Big". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. p. C1. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
  6. 1 2 "Delta State dedicates Thad Cochran Center for Rural School Leadership and Research - Delta State University". Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  7. "Ole Miss cheerleading squad". The Washington Post. January 8, 1999.
  8. 1 2 "Thad Cochran Biography". Thad Cochran Senate. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  9. "Wife of GOP Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi dies". USA Today. December 12, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  11. Black, Earl; Merle Black (2003). The Rise of Southern Republicans. Harvard University Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-674-01248-6.
  12. "Results of Elections Across the Nation". The Blade. November 7, 1978. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
  13. Associated Press (December 27, 1978). "Eastland Quits Early To Aid His Successor". The Blade. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
  14. "Sen. Thad Cochran (R)". National Journal. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  15. David Hawkings (June 8, 2014). "What Cochran Vs. Lott Said About Today's GOP Civil War". Roll Call. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  16. Committee On Rules - Announcements
  17. Thomas-Lester, Avis (June 14, 2005), "A Senate Apology for History on Lynching", The Washington Post, p. A12, Retrieved June 26, 2005.
  18. 1 2 3 "Thad Cochran: The Quiet Persuader". Time. April 14, 2006. Archived from the original on February 13, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  19. The New York Times Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  21. "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  22. "Miss. Senator Leads Congress In Earmarks". WAPT. April 15, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
  23. "Cochran: Prepare now to lessen storm losses". The Delta Farm Press. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  24. Silver, Nate (April 18, 2013). "Modeling the Senate's Vote on Gun Control". The New York Times.
  25. Hess, Hannah. (24 April 2015), "Cochran Staffer Confesses to Sex-for-Drugs Scheme, Feds Say." Hill Blotter (blog) Roll Call. Retrieved 7 June 2015.Roll Call website
  26. Hsu, Spencer S. & DeBonis, Mike. (24 April 2015), "Longtime aide to Sen. Thad Cochran charged with drug possession". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 June 2015.Wash Post website
  27. 1 2 "Congress passes bill to give city 'bean field' property". Natchez Democrat. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  28. "S. 304 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  29. "CBO - S. 304". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  30. 1 2 "House Republican Conference's Legislative Digest on S 304". House Republican Conference. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  31. 1 2 "Wicker, Cochran Sign on to Sportsmen's Legislative Package". Office of Senator Wicker. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  32. "Firearms Industry Thanks U.S. Sen. Cochran for Co-Sponsoring Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act". Sacramento Bee. PRNewswire. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  34. 1 2
  36. "US Senate Election Official Certification" (PDF). Mississippi Secretary of State. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  37. Pender, Geoff (1 July 014). "Cochran campaign denies vote-buying reports". The Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved 2 July 2014. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  38. "2014 General Elections". Mississippi Secretary of State. 2014-11-04. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thad Cochran.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sonny Montgomery
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jon Hinson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gil Carmichael
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Mississippi
(Class 2)

1978, 1984, 1990, 1996, 2002, 2008, 2014
Most recent
Preceded by
Jake Garn
Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Bob Kasten
Preceded by
John Chafee
Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Connie Mack
United States Senate
Preceded by
James Eastland
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Mississippi
Served alongside: John Stennis, Trent Lott, Roger Wicker
Preceded by
Tom Harkin
Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee
Succeeded by
Saxby Chambliss
Preceded by
Ted Stevens
Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee
Succeeded by
Robert Byrd
Preceded by
Barbara Mikulski
Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Orrin Hatch
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Chuck Grassley
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/12/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.