Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Say What? Mississippi Senate

By Nathan L. Gonzales

From a January 29, 2007 Roll Call story on Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and his looming decision on whether to seek reelection:

"Thad Cochran has a long history of putting Washington before Mississippi," according to DSCC spokesperson Dierdre Murphy, "and it is going to hurt his Senate re-election bid in 2008."

My reaction? If Cochran "has a long history of putting Washington before Mississippi," Magnolia State voters apparently haven't received the memo.

What the Republican senator has shown is a long history of winning elections in the Magnolia State. Cochran won three terms in the House, beginning in 1972, until his initial election to Senate in 1978. Sure, he only won with 45% almost thirty years ago, but he's averaged 79% in his four subsequent reelection races, including 1984 (61%), 1990 (100%), 1996 (71%), and 2002 (85%). If Cochran's past record is so bad, why did Democrats let him run unopposed twice?

Really, the DSCC's quote has nothing to do with the senator's record and is little more than an empty threat. It's very unlikely Democrats are sitting on any new information on the senator that hasn't been revealed over his three decades in public office.

Instead, it's more of an attempt to "scare" Cochran out of running in 2008, creating an open seat and a potential Democratic opportunity. But with Cochran in the race, rational Democrats understand they have virtually no chance of winning. And they have a slim chance of recruiting a top candidate like former state attorney general Mike Moore (D) into the race if Cochran runs.

No senator is invincible, and the political dynamics of the race could change in the next two years. But suggesting that Cochran would be in trouble if he runs for reelection stretches the committee's credibility, and that's enough reason for the DSCC not to say it.