One of the senators from Mississippi, Thad Cochran, has been ill. The 79-year-old’s most recent battle has been with a urinary tract infection. For that reason, he hasn’t been able to be in the Senate.
Yesterday he managed to get back for the tax reform debate/vote. However, according to reporter Matt Laslo, Cochran “arrived at the Capitol walking up steps with help of staff and they have a wheelchair waiting for him inside.”
Two days earlier his staff had put out a statement that he was unable to return. Cochran said, “I am pleased to be back in Washington where I look forward to continuing work on the 2018 appropriations bills and to taking part in the debate on the budget and tax cuts. I appreciate all the support and kind words I received while at home.”
As The Hill reported:
“Cochran’s absence had raised concern that Senate Republicans would struggle to advance their budget, a crucial step in the legislative strategy to pass tax reform.
“Without Cochran, the GOP’s narrow 52-vote majority in the Senate left little room for error.
“Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he would vote against the budget if defense spending levels were not reduced by $43 billion. With few other Republicans threatening to block the resolution, Cochran’s return to the Senate appears to assure the resolution’s passage.”
Perhaps you remember the 2014 election in which Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel challenged the senator, but lost. Many people considered that the GOP had played fast and loose with McDaniels unfairly. Wikipedia summarizes:
During the primary election, Senator Cochran and State Senator McDaniel received 49% and 49.5% of the vote respectively. Since no candidate received over 50%, there was a runoff to determine the Republican nominee on June 24, 2014.
Cochran’s campaign invited Democrats to vote in the Republican primary and defeated McDaniel in the run-off election. In addition, Cochran-affiliated super PACs used racially charged themes in their primary ads, particularly the super PAC “All Citizens for Mississippi”, which was funded(according to these F.E.C. filings by a super PAC affiliated with Former Governor Haley Barbour.
Cochran is up for reelection in 2020 – if he gets there. If not, Governor Phil Bryant can appoint a successor to fill the balance of his term.
Cochran’s been in the Senate since 1978. Why would he cling to it so desperately?