|U.S. Senator from Mississippi|
From: December 27, 1978 – Present
|Successor||Incumbent (no successor)|
|U.S. Representative from Mississippi's 4th District|
From: January 3, 1973 – December 26, 1978
|Spouse(s)||Rose Clayton Cochran|
Cochran won the 2014 Republican primary against Conservative Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, albeit with the use of ethically questionable yet legal tactics. After the primary where neither won 50% and where McDaniel led with 49.5% Cochran courted African American Democrats to vote in the runoff which was open. Cochran, using these questionable tactics, won a majority of votes with the expanded electorate featuring African American Democrats.
Thad Cochran was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi. His father, William Holmes Cochran, was the principal and his mother, Emma Grace Cochran, a teacher in schools in Pontotoc, Tippah, and Hinds Counties. Cochran earned Eagle Scout as a youth and was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award as an adult. He graduated from Byram High School near Jackson and received a B.A. degree from the University of Mississippi with a major in psychology and a minor in political science in 1959. Despite being a lifelong Democrat, Cochran changed party affiliation to Republican in the 1960s and went on to serve as Mississippi executive director of Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign.
In 1972, Cochran was elected to the United States House of Representatives, to replace Democratic Congressman Charles Griffin. In the general election, he defeated the Democrat Ellis Bodron, a state senator from Vicksburg in Warren County. One major factor in Cochran's victory was the gigantic Republican landslide in that year's presidential election, in which Nixon won 49 of 50 states and 78 percent of Mississippi's popular vote. After winning re-election to the House in 1974, he was elected by his colleagues to represent the southern states on the House Republican Policy Committee. He was re-elected to the House of Representatives again in 1976. In both of his races for re-election, Cochran received over 70 percent of the votes. In 1978, Thad Cochran was elected to the United States Senate becoming the first Republican in over 100 years to win a statewide election in Mississippi. He was re-elected in 1984 in a race with Governor William Winter with over 60 percent of the votes. In 1990 he was unopposed, and in 1996 he was re-elected to a fourth term in the Senate with over 70 percent of the votes. His margin of victory in the 2002 election was 85 percent.
In addition to his ranking minority membership of the Appropriations Committee, Cochran serves on the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration.