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Cochran visits local leaders at Golding Barge

Published 11:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2014

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran received assurances of support from local officials and businessmen as he made a second swing through Vicksburg in his campaign for re-election for a seventh term in the U.S. Senate.

He faces Tea party candidate State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, in a June 24 runoff for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. The two finished in a near dead heat in the June 3 primary. His visit to Vicksburg is part of a statewide tour in the final days of the runoff campaign, and included a stop at Golding Barge Line, where he met with local leaders.

“We’re making sure we don’t overlook some area in the state where we need to be aware of special problems we (Mississippi) have that we need to address in Washington, and keeping up-to-date with what the needs are and what the problems are. That’s part of the job,” Cochran said.

“I feel strongly about being in a representative capacity and representing the interests of the state,” he said. “That’s my elected responsibility and I try very hard to make sure Mississippi’s represented fairly. Whenever we have changes in the laws and regulations in Washington, I’m their (the state’s) advocate.”

His appearance in Vicksburg came on the heels of President Obama’s signing of the Water Resources Recovery Act, or WRRDA, which includes money for dredging the Mississippi River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the local leaders made sure they appreciated Cochran’s part in getting the bill passed.

“The WRRDA Bill passage is going to have a huge impact on Vicksburg. It provided about $10 million for our port and the surrounding facilities,” said Austin Golding, Golding’s marketing, sales and customer service manager.

“What our senator brings to the table is monumental for our community, our industry and our nation,” Golding Barge Line president Steve Golding said. “I can’t imagine the inland barge transportation industry, our state, our city, or our country without having Sen. Cochran at the controls for our Senate. He has been monumental for our industry and the State of Mississippi.”

Steve Golding said the barge industry is a unique industry for Mississippi, adding Golding’s customers are all out of state. “Every dollar we generate is new money to this community and the State of Mississippi. We don’t have a customer in the state,” he said.

Golding said re-electing Cochran is vital to the state “and I just hope and pray that Mississippi will wake up and realize that come election day.”

Mayor George Flaggs Jr., a Democrat, said he supports Cochran “not only because you are a friend, but you’ve always been accessible to the needs of Vicksburg. You’ve always made Mississippi first. I think that makes you stand taller in the Senate.”

Under WRRDA, Flaggs said, the Corps for the first time “has the money to allocate, and, thanks to you, they’ll be able to do more dredging, and dredging is so important on the Mississippi River.”

He also extended an invitation to visit the Corps Engineering Research and Development Center. “The federal government is the biggest employer here,” he said. “Every time we talk about furloughs, we get nervous.”

WRRDA was not the only topic that got Cochran a pat on the back. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney praised the senator for his support in repealing the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which extended the National Flood Insurance Program and increased flood insurance rates.

“When the Biggert-Waters Act passed, is was a disaster,” Chaney said. “We saw flood insurance rates go up.” He also commended Cochran for his work in getting aid to coast residents affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Chaney also urged the business people to get people out to vote for Cochran in the runoff. His call brought a response from Flaggs, who said, “I voted for him and I’ll do it again.”