The eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is a fitting opportunity to consider the political future of Thad Cochran.
That will not seem odd to anyone who remembers and appreciates Cochran’s indispensable role in helping steer tens of billions of dollars in federal aid and tax incentives to help the region recover from the nation’s worst natural disaster.
At the time, Cochran was serving his fifth term in the United States Senate. Now in his sixth, he has yet to announce his intentions about seeking a seventh term next year.
His delaying a decision is understandable.
Cochran will be 76 on Dec. 7. Serving another six-year term in the Senate would leave him with few peers. Even now, only three senators – Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Max Baucus of Montana – have more seniority in the Senate than Cochran.
In the annals of Mississippi public service, Cochran’s tenure is already historic. At the end of his current term, he will be the second longest-serving U.S. senator in state history, surpassing James O. Eastland. Cochran himself succeeded Eastland in office and, fittingly, served for a decade with John C. Stennis, who occupied a seat in the Senate longer than any other Mississippian (from Nov. 5, 1947, until Jan. 3, 1989).
But Cochran has never struck us as a man who would hang around the Capitol just to mark time.
It is because he remains an active legislator and respected conciliator that we would hope he would make another run.
Heaven forbid we are ever again hit by a hurricane as devastating as Katrina. And heaven help us if we are and have anything less than the capable representation of a Thad Cochran.
Whatever the senator decides to do, he’ll have our appreciation for what he has done and our best wishes for his future.
The Sun Herald