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Mississippi Races

Senate Outlook for 2008

Can Democrats Take Advantage of the Turf?

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Mississippi (1)

Outlook: Solid Republican

March 25, 2008 Update:

With much of the attention focused on Mississippi’s other Senate race, it would be almost possible to forget that Thad Cochran is up for reelection. Cochran announced his intentions fairly late in the game, but state Democrats failed to drum up any serious candidates, unable to take advantage of the brief period of uncertainty. As a result, Cochran is running against Democrat Erik Fleming, a former state legislator who ran against retired Senator Trent Lott in 2006. Cochran has stepped up his fundraising efforts, breaking the $1 million mark in cash on hand by the end of 2007. With an incumbent enjoying approval ratings above 60 percent, there’s little question that this will be a Republican hold in 2008.

November 26, 2007 Update:

Republican incumbent Thad Cochran laid to rest months of speculation when he announced that he is in fact seeking reelection in 2008. Cochran’s announcement means that Mississippi Republicans will only have to deal with one open seat in November 2008. (Trent Lott has announced he will be retiring as well, although it’s unclear precisely when his retirement will take effect.) Cochran may very well not even face a challenger if the Democrats choose to focus their attentions on Lott’s open seat instead of taking on the venerable Cochran. Certainly this picture will become more clear when more is known about the race for Lott’s seat.


There’s been no official word from the Thad Cochran camp about whether or not the senior Senator from Mississippi will run for reelection in 2008. Low fund-raising totals (only $275K in the second quarter) have raised speculation that this may be his last go in Washington. He does, however, have over a million dollars cash -on-hand, the same amount he had at this time six years ago.

Retirement would not be a huge surprise. Cochran has been in the Senate since 1978, and would leave behind quite a track record. He was the first Republican to hold statewide office in Mississippi since Reconstruction, and was the first Republican from a former Confederate state to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee after gaining that position in 2005. His moderate positions on stem cell research and other social issues haven’t dimmed his appeal in Mississippi, as he constantly polls above 60% approval.

Whether or not Cochran hangs up his hat, the only likely Democratic contender is Gene Taylor, Congressman from the 4th District. Taylor is a right-leaning Democrat, which could appeal to Mississippi’s very red voters. No Republican heirs to the seat have arisen, and none likely will before an official announcement from Cochran.


Erik Fleming – Democrat – former state representative

Thad Cochran (I) – Republican – current Senator