Thad Cochran supporters say a Jackson County economy at risk if longtime senator isn’t reelected

PASCAGOULA, Mississippi — Jackson County’s economy and the entire region’s success will be at risk unless U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran is reelected, local business leaders said as the longtime senator made a campaign stop at Merchants & Marine Bank in Pascagoula this afternoon.

Cochran, a six term senator, faces challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is tea party-backed, in a June 24 Republican primary runoff.

The closely-watched campaign has been riddled with mudslinging, celebrity endorsements and scandal as the young senator takes on the senior legislator.

The runoff “will be a referendum on the future well-being of this county,” said business leader Jerry St. Pe, who introduced Cochran to the crowd of about 45.

“We all need to make sure we do everything we can to make sure people get that message,” he said. “The economy and well-being of this county and this region is at risk if Thad Cochran doesn’t go back in the U.S. Senate, and that’s clear.”

Among those gathered for the event were representatives of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, Port of Pascagoula, airport authority, utility authority, Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, cities of Pascagoula and Gautier, multiple major industries and others.

Cochran pledged that he would invest his best efforts and “reflect credit on the state of Mississippi and all of you who had a part in my reelection to Senate.”

“I’ll do my best to make you proud,” he said, which includes continuing to look out for the economic viability of Jackson County and its major industries.

“We have bright days ahead, in my view,” Cochran said. “We have an energetic and talented workforce and a better educated workforce than ever before. We have families who are choosing to come back to Mississippi after college, make a home here and be parts of our communities. Definitely, I think our stock is on the rise.”

As the event began, the Pascagoula Metal Trades Council — representing nearly 6,000 craft workers at Ingalls Shipbuilding – also sent out a news release saying it endorsed Cochran for reelection.

St. Pe said the announcement makes it “loud and clear what the people who built that shipyard think about Thad Cochran” and also “why they want to have nothing to do with Chris McDaniel’s campaign.”