Geoff Pender: Longtime senator will have to run a ‘real’ campaign

The last time Republican Sen. Thad Cochran had to wage a serious re-election campaign, “Ghostbusters” was tops at the box office, Madonna was singing “Like a Virgin” and Apple had just unveiled its Macintosh personal computer.

Unlike 1984, when he defeated Democratic former Gov. William Winter, Cochran is part of a fragmented national and state Republican Party. He’s got to contend with social media that can level the playing field for an upstart and complaints that he’s been in Washington too long. His long, storied record of bringing home the federal bacon to Mississippi is now his cross to bear from his tea party-backed challenger, state Rep. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville.

And Cochran turns 76 on Saturday.

Cochran likely won’t have to run a perfect campaign to be re-elected over a relative newcomer. But he will have to run a real campaign — and a careful one. And he can’t run it from Washington or rely strictly on a few old heads who don’t tweet. Cochran, known for keeping his own counsel, will have to rely on some campaign gurus.

Clarion Ledger
12/6