Cochran pleased with GOP success


Jerome Cochran

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  The victory of Republican President George W. Bush in Tuesday's presidential race and the GOP's success in U.S. and state Senate races saw a majority of the nation's voters swing to conservatism.
  State Rep. Jerome Cochran believes the GOP's success indicates a return to the ideas espoused by an icon of modern conservatism.
  "I think the Reagan legacy lives on," Cochran said Friday of the Republican success in Tuesday's state and federal election. "To most Americans, values are something they hold dear, and it goes beyond the pocketbook."
  Bush defeated Kerry for the presidency winning 59 million popular votes and 286 electoral votes to Kerry's 252. Republicans won four seats in the U.S. Senate with 55 confirmed seats and toppled Bush nemesis Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
  Tennessee Republicans also won two seats in the state Senate, gaining a 17-16 member majority over Democrats for the first time. The GOP also gained one seat in the state House narrowing the Democratic majority.
  Despite the new GOP majority, it appears Democratic speaker of the Senate, Lt. Gov. John Wilder, will retain his post as speaker of the Senate. Republican Sens. Curtis Person of Memphis and Tim Burchett of Knoxville told The Memphis Commercial Appeal on Thursday that they will back Wilder, D-Somerville, for another term. Cochran said he was disappointed with the decision of Senate Republicans to back Wilder for an 18th consecutive term.
  "I think that is a slap in the face," Cochran said.
  Cochran said he supported Upstate Republican Sen. Ron Ramsey who has expressed interest in the speaker's position. Ramsey is current chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus. He retained his 2nd Senatorial District seat on Tuesday following a contentious campaign against Democratic challenger John McKamey.
  The U.S. Department of Labor reported the nation experienced its largest job growth in seven months during October. The Labor Department reported 337,000 people were added to payrolls last month. Construction and other needs created from an active hurricane season in the nation's East Coast and Gulf Coast were credited with the upswing.
  Cochran felt Carter County could reap the benefits of economic growth in the future. He noted Elizabethton's growth in the commercial sector boded well for the town's future. He said he felt the job growth and other factors indicated the national economy was gaining momentum.
  "I think Carter County has a very bright future," he said.
  Cochran also said lawmakers would face the unenviable task of dealing with the TennCare program once more. He said the state's much maligned Medicaid program could be nearing an end in its current form.
  Gov. Phil Bredesen told media members on Friday the state had "hit a wall" regarding federal court rulings that had blocked past and proposed reforms to the program. Both Bredesen and Cochran cited inflexible TennCare advocates and federal court rulings as obstacles to reforming the program.
  "In the end they are going to end up killing TennCare," said Cochran.
  Cochran proposed a scaled-down version of the program that provided solid, basic health care benefits to the elderly and children first. He said if meaningful TennCare reform was not enacted the state could end up reverting back to the Medicaid system.
  Election Day proved successful for Cochran, who ran unopposed for his 4th District seat to the House of Representatives. He received more than 17,000 complimentary votes in Tuesday's state election.
  "I am grateful to the people of Carter County," Cochran said of the results. "I am extremely honored by their support and I look forward to returning to Nashville and working with Sen. (Rusty) Crowe and improving the lives of the people in Carter County."