Former GOP Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran Dies At 81

Roll Call reports:

Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the mannerly former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee where he was a dependable provider for his home state during more than four decades in Congress, has died at the age of 81.

Cochran, who retired from the Senate on April 1, 2018, after dealing with health issues, died Thursday morning in Oxford, Miss., according to a statement circulated by Chris Gallegos, his longtime communications director. Cochran was one of the longest-serving senators, with nearly 39 years in office. Before that, he had spent six years in the House.

Unlike some of his colleagues from the Deep South, Cochran was always a member of the GOP, and was the first Republican elected statewide in Mississippi in a century, dating back to Reconstruction in the 1870s.

In late 2017 it was reported that Cochran sometimes seemed disoriented in the hallways of Capitol Hill and once had to be directed to his own office. He announced his retirement months later.

RELATED: In 2014 a Mississippi Tea Party leader and two other supporters of GOP Senate candidate Chris McDaniel were arrested for conspiring to take a photo of Cochran’s wife, who was under care for Alzheimer’s in an adult treatment facility. The men had hoped to embarrass Cochran, who had been seeing another woman with his children’s blessing. McDaniel denied involvement in the incident. The Tea Party leader, whose own mother was in the same dementia unit, killed himself shortly after the arrest. Cochran later married the woman after his wife died.