Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran married his longtime assistant, Kay Webber, over the weekend, settling speculation that arose during last year’s ugly Republican primary that the two were romantically involved.
In a short statement posted online, Cochran’s office said that the two were married in a private ceremony that took place in Gulfport, Miss. on Saturday. Webber has worked for Cochran since 1981.
The union comes just over five months after the death of Rose Cochran, the politician’s wife of 50 years. Rose passed away Dec. 12 after spending the last 13 years of her life bedridden in a Mississippi nursing home.
Cochran’s relationship with Webber was the source of widespread intrigue during the incumbent’s primary contest against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
McDaniel’s supporters alleged that Cochran and Webber were involved in a romantic relationship. They cited dozens of overseas trips on which Webber accompanied Cochran. They also pointed out that Cochran claimed Webber’s $1.6 million Washington, D.C. rowhouse as his primary residence. That was evidence not only of a romantic relationship but also that Cochran was not a resident of Mississippi, McDaniel supporters claimed.
Cochran, who went on to win his seventh term, admitted that he paid $2,400 a month in rent to live with Webber, but he maintained he was a Mississippi resident. His campaign shot down speculation over the relationship with Webber as unfounded rumor.
Last May, Jordan Russell, Cochran’s campaign manager, said that Webber was merely “a member of the staff and a trusted aide, and any other suggestion is silly gossip.”
According to The Clarion-Ledger, Cochran staffers denied rumors of a marriage as early as last week.