Tea Party Targets GOP Veteran in Mississippi Senate Race

Senator Thad Cochran’s name is plastered on buildings across Mississippi. But on this Saturday in late March, 73 days before he faces his first real reelection test in thirty years, Cochran is helping to christen a new Navy ship — at a shipyard in Alabama.

“The USS Jackson will serve as a reminder to all nations of our capability to protect our country, and its interests throughout the world,” Cochran tells the group of dignitaries assembled at the Austal shipyard here, along Mobile Bay. His daughter has been selected by the Secretary of the Navy as the sponsor of the ship, and she will christen it with the traditional bottle of Champagne.

For the patrician septuagenarian, this is what campaigning for Senate looks like. Cochran was first elected to Congress in 1973, the year America officially pulled out of Vietnam. He rose in seniority to become the top Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee, funneling millions back to his home state.

This year, conservatives view defeating Cochran as the Tea Party’s best hope to stick it to the Republican establishment. State Sen. Chris McDaniel is challenging him in the June Republican primary….

…Cochran says that he is doing just fine, in health and job performance.

“I’m complimented by his close attention to my appearance. I feel very good,” Cochran said Saturday. “I’m doing a good job, I think, of carrying out my responsibilities as a senator; very active in a lot of issue areas in Washington on behalf of Mississippi.”…

…”The last thing we want to do is election night [is] have a big screw up here and have people look at Mississippi and say, ‘but for the mistake in Mississippi, we could have taken the United States Senate,'” said Joe Nosef, the chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party. “We’ve obviously seen what’s happened in other states over the last few years, and we’re determined not to let that happen here.”

NBC News
3/25/14