Dr. Eric Clark, former Mississippi secretary of state and current executive director of the Mississippi Community College Board, is endorsing Thad Cochran in his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate.
At a press conference, Clark said: “The first comment I would make is that I’m here as a citizen of Mississippi, and not representing any organization. I am a citizen who has spent my entire adult life working to make Mississippi better, especially through education.
“My message is please vote for Sen. Thad Cochran next Tuesday, especially if you support public education. He has been a strong supporter of education, and education funding, for Mississippi ever since he has been in Congress.
“Recently, his opponent, Mr. Chris McDaniel, was quoted in the newspaper as saying, ‘The word education is not in the Constitution. Because the word is not in the Constitution, it’s none of their business.’ When asked how Mississippi could stand the loss of federal funds, he was quoted as saying, ‘I think Mississippi, if it’s allowed to keep more of its tax revenue, could offset those losses.’
“Here are the numbers. Our state’s community colleges benefit from $248 million in federal funds each year. That is almost as much as the $258 million our community colleges will get from the state Legislature next year. The numbers I have heard reported for K-12 are $800 million per year and for universities, about $1 billion per year. That totals more than $2 billion in federal education funds annually to Mississippi. And as to paying for that ourselves, our state receives $3.15 in federal funds for every $1 we send to Washington. We could not begin to make that difference locally.
“Obviously that would be a disaster to our state. It would wreck our schools. It would also wreck our economy. That $2 billion turns over many times in Mississippi’s economy, allowing our citizens to buy groceries, clothes, and gasoline, give to their churches, and pay state and local taxes.
“But the larger question is, who can do more for Mississippi in Washington? Thad Cochran can. He is in a position to help our state get the federal funding we need.
“If the Republicans take the Senate in November, Thad Cochran is in line to become chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, one of the most powerful positions in Washington. If we vote him out, that position would likely go to Sen. Shelby of Alabama. Why on earth would Mississippi give that power away? Thad Cochran can do 50 times more than any newcomer to protect our state, even if that person had the best of intentions. Sen. Cochran’s influence is worth gold to Mississippi.
“We learned that in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, when Sen. Cochran was able to send billions of federal dollars in recovery money to our state. The Gulf Coast would still be under water financially if it weren’t for Thad Cochran. Mr. McDaniel said he didn’t know whether he would have even voted for Katrina relief.
“If we vote Thad Cochran out next Tuesday, we’d better pray we will never have another hurricane or tornado because he will not be there to look out for us.
“I ask all Mississippians, and especially those who support education — K-12, community colleges, or universities, to vote for Sen. Thad Cochran next Tuesday.”