Former Republican Senator Thad Cochran Dies at 81

Former Republican Sen. Thad Cochran died Thursday after a long illness. He was 81 years old. Cochran first entered politics in 1972 by winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives—only the second Republican elected to the House after the Reconstruction era. In 1978, Cochran became the first Republican from Mississippi in a century to be elected to the U.S. Senate. He went on to serve 40 years and hold several GOP leadership positions in the Senate. Cochran was known for his cordial and influential manner. Time magazine called him a “quiet persuader” when they named him one of the 10 best senators in 2006. He was also known for his ability to secure funding for his home state. When Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf in 2005, Cochran directed millions of dollars in federal recovery aid to the region. When Cochran left the Senate in 2018, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he was “living proof that unwavering principle and collegiality can and should coexist.”