Tagged: jim eastland

Politicians: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly; And Then There Is The Very Decent Gentleman

Thad Cochran – one of the best to ever serve Mississippi

For a man who was elected to the U.S.House of Representatives in 1972 and the U.S. Senate in 1978. Sen. Thad Cochran left quietly when he retired earlier this month. Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed by Gov. Bryant to serve until the November 2018 special election. Headlines have been dominated by Cochran’s health, who Bryant would appoint to take Cochran’s place, what state Sen. Chris McDaniel would do, and the possible candidates in the special election. During almost 50 years of writing about Mississippi politics, I have met the good, the bad, and the ugly of the many politicians who have held or sought office in our state. There is no question Cochran has been and always will be one of my favorites.

I first met Cochran in 1972 when he, Trent Lott, and a college professor named Carl Butler were running for U.S. House seats and I was the state campaign manager for the very longshot, even hopeless campaign of Gil Carmichael who was opposing powerful Democrat James O. “Big Jim” Eastland. Carmichael was in the senate race because James Meredith was running as a Republican and Clarke Reed and other state leaders were  horrified Meredith might be the GOP nominee for the senate in November. The Meridian car dealer was put in the primary to defeat Meredith. One of the big events of the campaign was when then Vice President Spiro Agnew was coming to Mississippi to endorse the four congressional candidates. At the time, Agnew was even considerably more popular in Mississippi than President Richard Nixon. This was, of course, before

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Jack Reed, R.I.P.

Last week, Jack Reed of Tupelo, MS passed away. He was widely hailed as one of Mississippi’s great educational and business leaders. Such praise for the successful businessman was well justified. Not as much mention has been made of the fact that in 1987, Reed ran the strongest race for governor of any Republican since Reconstruction. As a friend of mine commented, Reed’s close race against Democrat Ray Mabus probably contributed a lot to the successful campaign of Kirk Fordice, who defeated Mabus’ re-election bid four years later.

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