Learning from Thad Cochran
How did Thad Cochran bounce back to win in the Republican Senate nomination in Mississippi, beating our a strong Tea Party challenger? He had 36 years of experience on his side, for one thing, (as well as Brett Favre), but with three weeks left in the campaign, and the results still up in the air, Cochran’s team took charge.
Rather than making peace with his firebrand challenger, state and national Republicans redoubled their efforts to tear down Chris McDaniel, whom they considered a political lightweight taking advantage of a virulently anti-Washington mood.
By the time the second round of balloting rolled around on June 24, a collection of groups that might be dubbed the Emergency Committee for Mississippi had spent millions on new television ads, knocked on tens of thousands of doors and reached out to voters – including African-Americans and Democrats – who had likely never voted before in a GOP primary.
Joe Sanderson, Cochran’s finance chair, said he always believed that Cochran would win once his legions of admirers realized what was truly at stake.
For the pro-Cochran alliance, the race came down to a huge strategic gamble: That the universe of Mississippians who wanted to see Cochran back in the Senate was substantially larger than the group that voted in the primary – and that rather than serving as a death knell for Cochran, the June 3 ballot would serve instead as a wake-up call for apathetic Mississippians.