Sen. Thad Cochran’s appropriations prowess, particularly for shipbuilding, showcased at JCEDF luncheon

PASCAGOULA, Mississippi – Sen. Thad Cochran made a campaign appearance Thursday at the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation spring investor’s meeting in the countdown to Tuesday’s heated Republican primary race against Chris McDaniel.

“I really enjoy getting around to all parts of the state during this campaign,” he said. “It is a constant campaign to keep people informed about what’s going on in Washington, trying to represent the interests of our state and be sure that we have economic opportunities here equal to anywhere in the nation. This is a good example of a city that has made that dream come true.”

The luncheon at the Pascagoula Hilton, attended by a who’s who of Jackson County industrial and community leaders, served to showcase the veteran lawmaker’s role as a powerful member of the Appropriations Committee.

If Cochran defeats McDaniel and goes on to win re-election for a seventh term, the 76-year-old Cochran stands to be the chairman of that key committee if Republicans return to the majority in the Senate.

Cochran’s seniority and longevity in Congress have become major issues in the heated race.

Keynote speaker Brian Cuccias, the new president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, and former Ingalls president Jerry St. Pe both praised Cochran for his support of the Pascagoula shipyard and national defense during his tenure in Congress.

“Those of us who understand this business know clearly that even with great facilities like Ingalls, even with the most highly skilled, most motivated and patriotic shipbuilders that we have here, the facts are that shipbuilding programs do not get their start in shipyards, not even good ones like Ingalls,” St. Pe said.

“They get their start in the Congress of the United States in the appropriations and authorization committees in the Senate. So the great success that Ingalls has achieved for 75 years and the fact that it’s positioned today to do great things in the future, a great deal of that credit goes to the four decades of extraordinary leadership that Thad Cochran has provided the state of Mississippi and this nation in terms of strong support for national defense and more specifically, for Navy shipbuilding projects. That’s a message that can’t be ignored in this election.”

In remarks to media after the luncheon – including an entourage of national media – Cochran addressed his role on the Appropriations Committee and its importance in the election.

“I think there’s a greater sense of awareness of the influence of the appropriations process on the smooth operation of government and fulfillment of American dreams, a strong economy and a safer world in which we live,” Cochran said. “Our contributions as a committee in the appropriations process helps guarantee that for our nation’s future.”

Cochran said he would be “flattered to be chosen to be chairman of the committee if we are in the majority and I’m re-elected.”