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Cochran Signals He's Ready to Run for 6th Term

The Fix lamented recently Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) insistence that he planned to wait until the fall -- possibly as late as Dec. 1 -- to make a decision about whether or not to run for reelection next year.

Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi
A decision by Sen. Thad Cochran to run for a sixth term would help ease the pressure on Senate Republicans in the 2008 cycle. (File Photo -- Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

Cochran must have heard our carping. An astute Fix reader pointed us to a story in yesterday's Jackson Clarion-Ledger in which Cochran seems to all-but-announce that he is running again.

"It's out of a great sense of duty that I am leaning heavily toward seeking another term," Cochran said. The story also noted that Cochran is set to raise $650,000 at two events in Mississippi this week, a sum that could quiet the rumors of a potential retirement. At the end of 2006, Cochran had just $343,000 in the bank.

Asked Wednesday whether these comments suggest Cochran has changed his timeline for deciding on a 2008 run, spokeswoman Margaret Wicker demurred. "It is still Senator Cochran's intention to make his official reelection announcement later this year," she said.

It sure seems like Cochran is, to borrow a phrase, in to win. If that's true, Senate Republicans have dodged a bullet. While Mississippi, even in an open-seat scenario, was never likely to be a top-tier opportunity for Democrats, if Cochran runs it will be a non-race, period.

With the numbers of the 2008 cycle working against Senate Republicans -- 21 GOP seats are up compared with just 12 for Democrats. Of the 21 Republican senators up for reelection, four have regularly been mentioned as potential retirees: Cochran, Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Sen. Pete Domenici (N.M.) and Sen. John Warner (Va.).

For Republicans to have any chance at recapturing the majority in 2008 or, more realistically, limiting their losses, they must convince the majority -- if not all -- of these senators to stay on for another term.

Domenici and Warner have already said publicly that they plan to run again, but because of their advanced age (in Warner's case) and on again, off again health problems (Domenici), no one knows for sure what they will ultimately decide.

Hagel continues to mull a presidential bid, and even the most plugged-in Republican strategists admit it is anyone's guess about what the Nebraska senator's future holds.

But Cochran's comments are a step in the right direction for Republicans. This cycle still looks like an uphill struggle for the party, but one seat looks close to coming off the table.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 22, 2007; 4:47 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

Cochran and many others chances look better with each new Demcratic party scnadal.

Clarence Norman Jr., leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, the biggest Democratic organization east of Chicago, since 1990, was convicted 2/23/07 of coercion, grand larceny by extortion and attempted grand larceny by extortion in what prosecutors said was a scheme to shake down judicial candidates in exchange for party support. This was Norman's third similar conviction. After his first conviction, Mr. Norman was stripped of his Assembly seat, which he had held for 23 years, and his leadership of one of the largest Democratic Party organizations in the country.

Posted by: tarheel | February 27, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Mississippi is one of the top three states with the largest percentage of black voters. How come those numbers aren't enough to win statewide?

Posted by: Shaun | February 24, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

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