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 Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he previously chaired from 2005 to 2007. He also chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee from 2003 to 2005 . Cochran is the third most-senior Senator and the second most-senior Republican member. Cochran won reelection to a seventh term in 2014, after defeating Chris McDaniel in an intense primary run-off election.
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. Cochran earned Eagle Scout as a youth and was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award as an adult. He graduated valedictorian 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). 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 abord the USS MACON, he attended the University of Mississippi School of Law, was elected to the Phi Kappa Phi honor society and graduated 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 long time 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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. While Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Cochran worked to expedite the process of approving spending bills to minimize partisan skirmishing. He is currently the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee.
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"||”|
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". 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."
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. 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, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
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.”
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.
- 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 Defense (Chairman)
- Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
- Subcommittee on Homeland Security
- Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
- Committee on Rules and Administration
- House/Senate International Education Study Group (Co-Chair)
- International Conservation Caucus
- Republican Task Force to Study the Energy Crisis
|Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1978|
|Independent||Henry Jay Kirksey||1,747||0.3|
|Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1984|
|Mississippi United States Senate election, 1990|
|Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1996|
|Democratic||James W. "Bootie" Hunt||240,647||27.4|
|General election results|
|style="background-color: Template:Reform Party of the United States of America/meta/color; width: 5px;" |||Reform||Shawn O'Hara||97,226||15.42|
|General election results|
The Cochran campaign denied allegations of vote buying made by a blogger regarding his primary run-off victory in 2014.
|Mississippi's US senate election, 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 (24 June 2014). "COCHRAN WINS". Politico. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- Weeks, Linton (January 7, 1999). "Two From Ole Miss, Hitting It Big". The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). p. C1. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
- "Ole Miss cheerleading squad". The Washington Post. January 8, 1999.
- "Thad Cochrane Biography". Thad Cochrane Senate. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- "Wife of GOP Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi dies". USA Today. Dec 12, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
- 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 14 August 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
- "Thad Cochran: The Quiet Persuader". Time. April 14, 2006. Archived from the original on February 13, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03/10/washington/AP-Abramoff-Senate-Aide.html. Missing or empty
- U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
- "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "Miss. Senator Leads Congress In Earmarks". WAPT. April 15, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
- "The Delta Farm Press - Cochran: Prepare now to lessen storm losses". The Delta Farm Press. The Delta Farm Press. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
- Silver, Nate (April 18, 2013). "Modeling the Senate's Vote on Gun Control". The New York Times.
- "Congress passes bill to give city 'bean field' property". Natchez Democrat. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "S. 304 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "CBO - S. 304". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "House Republican Conference's Legislative Digest on S 304". House Republican Conference. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
- "Wicker, Cochran Sign on to Sportsmen's Legislative Package". Office of Senator Wicker. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- "Firearms Industry Thanks U.S. Sen. Cochran for Co-Sponsoring Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act". Sacramento Bee. PRNewswire. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- 2002 ELECTION STATISTICS
- "US Senate Election Official Certification" (PDF). Mississippi Secretary of State. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- Pender, Geoff (1 July 014). "Cochran campaign denies vote-buying reports". www.clarionledger.com (The Clarion-Ledger). Retrieved 2 July 2014. Check date values in:
- "2014 General Elections". Mississippi Secretary of State. 2014-11-04. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
- 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
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thad Cochran.|
- Senator Thad Cochran official U.S. Senate site
- Senator Thad Cochran Re-election official 2014 campaign website
- Thad Cochran at DMOZ
- An Unlikely Revolutionary, Part I and II, Interview and extensive background to comments by Perry Hicks for GulfCoastNews.com