Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cochran Delays Retirement/Re-election Decision

  • Mississippi: The Sun Herald gets Republican Thad Cochran's thoughts on a possible re-election bid:

    U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., was saluted by fellow senators Thursday for having cast his 10,000th vote, but he kept characteristically coy about whether he expects to cast any votes after 2008, when he is up for re-election. ...

    As for the elephant in the room - will he run for re-election? - Cochran said: "I plan to. But I haven't formally announced my intentions or announced my candidacy."

    Cochran has been under pressure from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who want him to run and make an announcement.

    But Cochran isn't in any hurry. "I would guess after the November elections, around the first of December, I would announce if I'm running," he said. "I haven't firmly decided to run or not." The 69-year old lawmaker said he felt healthy enough to run.

    Asked if the GOP's minority status was a factor in his calculations, Cochran said, "Yes, if there was a less likelihood of being in the majority, I would be less inclined to run." ...

    In a sign he is gearing up for a race, the senior Mississippi lawmaker pointed out "I'm having some fundraisers," with two in the state this month.
    Some decide and then remain 'publicly undecided' as they await the right time to announce one way or the other, but Cochran seems genuinely undecided. He is raising money and he would like to remain in the Senate, health-permitting. However, he doesn't like being in the minority, and with the 2008 geography so heavily favoring Democrats, the GOP likely won't even have a chance to regain the Senate majority for half-a-decade or more.

    Cochran needs more motivation to retire. Hopefully, popular Democrat and former state Attorney General Mike Moore will get in ASAP. Unfortunately, Moore is waiting to see what Cochran does, which is why it is politically smart for Cochran to wait (note that Cochran pushed back his decision date even further, to the first of December) and keep Moore at bay so that GOP Rep. Chip Pickering, the likely GOP nominee should Cochran retire, can continue raising money while Moore waits. However, if Moore just announced, got in, raised a pile of money, and let Cochran know that he would have a grueling re-election battle on his hands if he ran again, then Cochran might be more inclined to retire. Given the situation, the ball is in Moore's court. I'm hoping he picks the ball up and runs with it. (And I hope you don't mind me combining different sports metaphors.)


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