BILL CRAWFORD: Mississippi awaits Thad’s decision

BILL CRAWFORD

BILL CRAWFORD

Now that the Tea Party has recruited a Republican candidate to seek Thad Cochran’s seat in the U.S. Senate, the paramount question becomes “will Thad run?”

The state’s senior senator has kept his plans close to the vest. His response last week was a simple news release saying he will decide later this year. Cochran, 75, would be seeking his seventh term in the Senate. He first went to Washington 40 years ago as a U.S. representative.

He is not the only senior Republican senator to be “primary-ed” by the Tea Party. The confrontational conservative group also has recruited primary opponents for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas.

The efforts to throw out these long-time, pro-business senators is turning the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another champion of conservatism, away from Tea Party candidates.

“We are going to get engaged,” the Chamber’s senior political strategist Scott Reed told Bloomberg.com. “The need is now more than ever to elect people who understand the free market and not silliness,” said Reed.

Labeling the Tea Party tactics a “Republican Civil War,” Bloomberg said the business response will hurt GOP efforts to gain control of the Senate in 2014 by pulling business resources away from contests in states with Democratic senators.

The risk to Cochran’s re-election is not so much from his opponent but from voter aggravation with government. During lunch with Republican-leaning businessmen I asked about the Senate race. Expecting to hear complimentary comments about Cochran’s statesmanship, championship of small business, saving Meridian Naval Air Station from closure and protecting other bases, providing resources for education and university research, or support for agriculture, I heard this instead:

“We need to clean house in Washington.”

“I was against term limits before, but now I’m for them.”

“It’s time for Thad to come home.”

These attitudes may not persist or pervade the state, but if they do Cochran may decide he no longer has the fire in the belly to fight both Tea Partiers and voter discontent. His fundraising activities suggest he may not. While he has $800,000 in his war chest, he would likely need millions.

If he does not run, one or more Republican leaders will. Those who will seriously consider running include Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, State Auditor Stacey Pickering, and Congressmen Gregg Harper, Alan Nunnelee, and Steven Palazzo. Not all would run, but all will think about it. For the congressmen it’s more risky. They would have to give up running for their current positions. And don’t rule out former Gov. Haley Barbour.

We’ll miss Thad far more than most realize if he comes home.

Bill Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

  • Jerry Patterson

    I don’t call my self a tea party member, although I agree with its slogan, Taxed Enough Already. Nor do I consider my self a Republican, although I will vote in the Republican primary. The article leaves out the fact that our senior has consistently voted against the principles or the people he is supposed to represent. A prime example of this is his voting to continue funding Obamacare which a vast majority of Mississippians (According to the Journal’s poll), are opposed to. This is the reason he will have a hard time winning the primary.

    • TWBDB

      You’re definitely a Republican.

    • Guest Person

      I find your viewpoint very strange – the Tea Party attempt to blackmail the Senate and the President to defund AHCA by thretening to shut down the goverment was a crazy plan that was doomed to fail. Cochran did the only reasonable thing to prevent a national disater. You are saying he should have crashed the ecconomy and the full faith and credit of the US in order to be re- elected?

  • barney fife

    Those clowns don’t give a flip about constituents unless they’re contributing mightily to the reelection coffers.

  • David Lions

    No mention of McDaniel here People’s choice against the Barbour sellout machine. Monstanto and Big Phama will gladly fork over millions to keep there pet Cochran in office. On short: We The People VS The Barbour Family Mafia.

  • the_rocket

    Picking between that bunch is like deciding which finger to cut off. The Rocket chooses “None of the above”.

    • Guest Person

      I see your point – it still amazes me that for the last 10+ years Republicans have been wrong on every major issue and the public still listens to them. To top it off they don’t even try to offer any real policy ideas they just try and build a platform on being against / demonizing democrats or the social contract. They were for tax cuts for the rich to benefit the ecconomy – WRONG. They sold us a war on weapons of mass destruction – WRONG. They said dereulation of Wall St would not cause any harm – WRONG. We are still trying to recover from their ideas and they want the public to really take them serious?

      Republicans cannot be trusted to govern.

  • 1941641

    There has been some mention that a Democrat will run for Cochran’s seat. That would really be interesting would it not? And, a good chance for Mississippi to pick itself up off the bottom among the United States of America!

    • Guest Person

      It would be nice for a strong Democrat to get into the mix to draw a more moderate line out of the Republicans but I think we could only dream. For a Senate seat they would have to battle a well oiled Republican machine and on top of that AFA will just spread rumors through thier brain washed followers that the Democrat eats babies or something crazy like that.