William Thad Cochran

Contact Information

Telephone:202-224-5054 (Main phone number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Pontotoc, MS
Residence:Jackson, MS
First Elected:1978


Next Election:2014

Undergraduate education: University of Mississippi


Graduate education: University of Mississippi


Thad Cochran was born in Pontotoc, Miss., and his family moved to Byram when he was a child. He now lives in Oxford. He attended the University of Mississippi where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1959 and a law degree in 1965.

Cochran served in the Navy from 1959 to 1961. He practiced law in Jackson from 1965 to 1972.

He was elected to the U.S. House in 1972. He served three consecutive terms until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978, succeeding longtime Democratic Sen. James O. Eastland, who retired.

Cochran and his wife, Rose, have two children.


Thad Cochran is the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was chairman of the committee until Democrats regained the Senate majority in 2006. Cochran as chairman helped steer billions of dollars in federal aid to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina left a wide swath of destruction in August 2005.

Cochran has criticized the 2010 health care reform law. After the Supreme Court upheld the law in June 2012, Cochran issued a statement saying: "Despite the Supreme Court's legal ruling allowing most aspects of the law to remain intact, that doesn't mean the policies set forth in the law are best for the American people or our economy. I continue to favor repeal of this health care law. We should respect the fact that most Americans don't want it."

Cochran has called Democrats' budgets "dangerous." But the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense said in 2010 that Cochran allocated more than $2.5 billion in earmarks for his state during the previous three years — more than any other member of Congress.

Cochran has often worked across party lines. He worked in 2010 with Republican Sen. Roger Wicker and Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, both of Mississippi, on a bill to name a new FBI building in Jackson the James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and Special Agent Roy K. Moore Federal Building. The name honors three civil rights workers who were killed in Neshoba County in 1964, and the agent who established after the slayings Mississippi's first FBI field office.

Cochran also crossed party lines in April 2009, urging the Senate to confirm former Democratic Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus as secretary of the Navy.

One of Cochran's longtime Senate staff members, Ann Copland, pleaded guilty in March 2009 to federal charges of swapping legislative favors for gifts with the firm of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Copland had worked for Cochran for 29 years before abruptly leaving in 2008.

Cochran is Mississippi's senior senator, but he served several years in the shadow of Republican former Sen. Trent Lott, a more aggressive and more conservative lawmaker who climbed to the position of Senate majority leader in the mid-1990s.

Cochran, who was once chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, has long been one of the Republican Party's top fundraisers, working effectively behind the scenes to help GOP members.

He became the first Mississippi Republican to hold a statewide office since Reconstruction when he won his seat in the U.S. Senate in 1978. He is viewed as a moderate, although his voting record has a conservative tilt, and his appeal has crossed political lines.

Committee Assignments: Appropriations; Rules and Administration; Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

American Conservative Union Rating: 70

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 20


Thad Cochran won his June 2014 runoff, he will face Travis Childers in November.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 25, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018