Senate GOP candidates spar on who can keep the jobs

MAGEE — The candidates for U.S. Senate continued to argue Tuesday over who would be best suited to keep jobs that rely on federal spending.

Sen. Thad Cochran offered a gentle message to a standing-room-only crowd in an upstairs conference room at Peoples Bank in Magee, just south of Jackson, three times mentioning voters should send someone “thoughtful” to Washington.

“I want to sincerely appeal to you for your consideration for the nomination,” he told the crowd. He reached back to the past, recalling his good relations and tutelage by figures such as former Sens. James Eastland and John Stennis.

Powerful chair could await

And he reiterated his plea to keep him and his influence in Congress. Cochran stands to become chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has broad power over federal spending, if he returns to the Senate and if Republicans win a majority.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats this year to win that majority, and analysts see that as possible.

Earlier, in Pascagoula, Chris McDaniel was ill and unable to court the crucial Jackson County vote at Ingalls Shipbuilding, but a team of supporters was there to hand out campaign literature.

“Hey, are you Chris?” asked one shipbuilder rushing to beat the 6 a.m. whistle that starts the shift.

“He’s not this good-looking,” joked state Sen. Michael Watson, one of those standing in for the candidate who is challenging Cochran in the June 24 Republican runoff. The winner of that race will face Democrat Travis Childers in November.

The crew handed out 500 letters detailing McDaniel’s argument against Cochran, who says his opponent won’t have the seniority or influence necessary to deliver the military contracts that are the lifeblood of the county’s largest employer.