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Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran To Seek Seventh Term

Notwithstanding a challenge from a Tea Party backed candidate, Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran will be running for a 7th term in 2014:

WASHINGTON — Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican who was first elected to the Senate in 1978, set up a generational and ideological clash in the state’s Republican primary when he announced Friday that he would seek a seventh term in 2014.

While Mr. Cochran, who turns 76 on Saturday, has the support of many leading Republicans in the state, he is already facing opposition from Chris McDaniel, 41, a state senator aligned with the Tea Party who announced his candidacy in October and has won the support of some conservative groups.

Mr. Cochran, who has raised less than $1 million for his re-election, had been thought to be leaning toward retirement. But Mississippi Republicans said they believed Mr. McDaniel’s challenge and pleas from powerful figures across the state that Mr. Cochran seek another term prompted the senator to mount what will probably be his final campaign.

There is also the prospect of Mr. Cochran reclaiming the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee if Republicans win back the Senate.

The primary could be the toughest race of his career. Mr. Cochran has faced little opposition in his 34 years in the Senate, routinely winning re-election by large margins over little-known Democrats. But the primary could offer insight into fundamental questions about the Republican Party: whether longevity and clout in a Deep South state that has traditionally venerated such qualities are enough to overcome national trends toward limited-government conservatism.

With some conservatives determined to replace Republicans like Mr. Cochran, he must appeal to elements of the primary electorate that prefer a more ideologically pure senator.

Mr. McDaniel has sought to seize on the new anti-spending fervor, casting Mr. Cochran — who has delivered billions of dollars in federal spending projects to his impoverished state — as an avatar of a bygone political culture.

“The national debt is the greatest moral crisis of this generation,” Mr. McDaniel said in announcing his candidacy in October. “So, let’s go forth from this place making it perfectly clear that the era of big spending is over. The age of appropriations must end.”

Mr. McDaniel has already gotten help in making this case from some conservative groups like the Club for Growth, which is already airing ads in the state praising him as “the new strong conservative leader Mississippi needs in the U.S. Senate.”

But Mr. Cochran is a formidable figure in a state that has long relied on federal largess and that rarely turns over its Senate seats. He will have the support of Mississippi’s political and business establishment, which are deeply worried about what losing Mr. Cochran would mean to a state that, without him, would have little seniority in its congressional delegation.

Along with Georgia, where several Republicans are running for the GOP nomination in a race to fill the seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss, and Kentucky, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is being challenged by a Tea Party candidate, and Wyoming, where we have the face off between Mike Enzi and Liz Cheney, this makes Mississippi the fourth state to have what is likely to have a high profile primary next year. Like Wyoming, there seems to be little doubt that whomever happens to win the nomination will go on to win the General Election, but the battle will tell us a lot about the state of play inside the GOP and the ongoing conflict between the “old guard” and the Tea Party, which seems to have entered a new phase since the government shutdown fiasco. For the moment, though, I’d put my money on Cochran in this particular fight.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    While Mr. Cochran, who turns 76 on Saturday, has the support of many leading Republicans in the state, he is already facing opposition from Chris McDaniel, 41, a state senator aligned with the Tea Party who announced his candidacy in October and has won the support of some conservative groups.

    So, Thad Cochran is the new prototype of a moderate Republican? Fantastic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  2. Pinky says:

    The Senate must be a lot more fun than it looks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. Moosebreath says:

    I would be very surprised if Lindsey Graham is not added to the list of Republican Senators facing a high-profile primary challenge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. stonetools says:

    So, Thad Cochran is the new prototype of a moderate Republican? Fantastic.

    Ain’t it amazing? The Neanderthal mossy back Southern Republican is now hailed as the moderate savior compared t\o the troglodytes coming out of the Tea Party.
    Republicans are now asking, “How can we turn off the damned machine!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. JohnMcC says:

    This is what a dying political party looks like.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  6. JKB says:

    The Tea Party….is there anything is can’t do? Even Obama is not speaking out on how government is to large an unable to accomplish much:

    “The challenge, I think, that we have going forward is not so much my personal management style or particular issues around White House organization,” Obama said. “It actually has to do with what I referred to earlier, which is we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  7. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Wasn’t it Senator Cochran who first said, “you can take my Senate seat when you pry it from my cold, dead ass.” ???

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  8. JohnMcC says:

    @JKB: When I read your comments, my dear, it occurs to me that there actually is a whole realm of inarticulateness that even Mr Mataconis hasn’t reached.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @al-Ameda: Indeed! It do boggle the mind. Yes indeedie!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. superdestroyer says:

    @11B40:

    I think Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy had already beat Sen. Cochran to that line. As the U.S. becomes a one party state, there will be a lot more politicians who hang around for decades since they will face little opposition and few elections will be meaningful.

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