JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Senator Thad Cochran’s legacy and impact on his home state of Mississippi is being remembered today. Cochran died early Thursday morning in Oxford. He was 81.
It’s been 14 months since Cochran resigned from his Senate seat due to health reasons. He was the 10th longest-serving Senator in history. He first served in the United State House from 1972-1978 before being elected to the Senate.
Then-Congressman Gregg Harper was alongside Cochran for much of his 2014 re-election campaign.
“What a gentleman, a statesman," said Harper. "I’m going to miss him so much. I can’t think of anybody that encouraged me more or helped me in small ways over the years and really just inspired not just me but countless others to get involved in politics.”
Cochran’s being remembered for his work across party lines. But not in a bulldog manner.
“He showed us how to work," added Harper. "If you wanted to get something great done, particularly in Washington, D.C., you had to be willing to work in a bi-partisan manner. I don’t remember ever hearing Senator Cochran criticize anybody across the aisle.”
Those who knew and worked with him will tell you he was known as the “Quiet Persuader”.
“He was as comfortable walking among the cabins at the Neshoba County Fair as he was walking into the Oval Office," explained Governor Phil Bryant. "And he was just a kind gentle soul. But I think people need to understand that that gentleness did not mean there was a weakness about him. He was as strong and determined when he set his mind to something than anyone I’ve ever known.”
He held significant power in the Senate. Even at the time of his resignation, serving as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. A role that put the control of Congress’ purse strings largely in his hands.
“We’ve missed his leadership on subject matters of importance agriculture, healthcare, education...all those things that are really critical to Mississippi,” said Congressman Bennie Thompson. "Thad Cochran was an anchor to do the best to make things better.”