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Deborah Cochran, at 64; politician represented Dedham

Winning wasn't everything to Deborah (Rand) Cochran, a Republican who represented Dedham in the state House of Representatives for two terms and ran unsuccessfully for Congress, lieutenant governor, and secretary of state. Making a political point was.

''When she was asked to run for Congress against J. Joseph Moakley in 1982, she said, 'Why not?' She knew it was going to be an uphill battle as a Republican in a Democratic state, but she loved politics and to fight for worthy causes," her daughter, Christine McGrail of Dedham, said yesterday.

Mrs. Cochran, 64, who died of pancreatic cancer Wednesday in her Dedham home, lost her race to Moakley by a wide margin, but it didn't phase her. ''She enjoyed it," said her daughter. ''She had a passion for politics and was particularly interested in children's services and elder affairs."

Being a Republican in Massachusetts "was no mean feat," said her sister, Bunny Steinfield of Newbury, N.H., who was finance director of her congressional campaign. ''But she was steadfast, and she worked hard. I think the Republican Party was amazed at how much money she was able to raise."

Born in New York City and raised in Cleveland, Mrs. Cochran was the great-granddaughter of Nathaniel Banks, a Civil War general who was speaker of the House of Representatives and governor of Massachusetts from 1858 to 1861. She graduated from New York University and did graduate work at Smith College.

Mrs. Cochran ran unsuccessfully for the House before representing Dedham for two terms from 1979 to 1983.

After running against Moakley in 1982, she lost again in the 1986 race for secretary of state against Michael Connolly and missed in her bid for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 1990.

From 1988 to 1993, she operated a travel business in Dedham. In 1983 and 1984, she was director of public affairs for the Papa Gino's restaurant chain and was the company's vice president for public affairs from 1984 to 1986.

Mrs. Cochran was a member of the editorial board of radio station WEEI and the boards of directors of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Dedham Family Service.

After acquiring a second home in Florida, she opened Cochran Antiques and Collectibles in Sarasota, Fla., which she owned and operated from 1994 to 2000.

''She traveled all over the South and specialized in dishes, because they were easy for her to carry," said her daughter.

Mrs. Cochran was not noted for her bare-knuckle campaign style. Her campaigns were more about ideas than dirty tricks.

But she was not above tweaking her rivals.

In 1990, when Mrs. Cochran ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor, she sent nearly 5,000 postcards to Republican convention delegates, which at first glance appeared to have been sent from Florida by her rival Paul Cellucci: ''Having fun! Wish you were here. Florida sure beats trying to balance the budget. Paul."

On the back of the postcard, Mrs. Cochran accused Cellucci of missing a key vote in the state Senate during a budget debate to ''go to the beach and tan up" for his campaign announcement.

''This is a foolish, fictitious forgery. This race can live without these kinds of dirty campaign tactics," Cellucci said, according to a story published in the Globe at the time.

Mrs. Cochran loftily denied the charge and pointed out that the postcard was ''too whimsical" to be considered dirty campaigning.

In addition to her daughter and sister, she leaves two sons, Thomas C. of Westwood and Stephen R. of Dedham; a daughter, Diana C. Knightly of Bronxville, N.Y.; another sister, Mary A. Angulo of Hyannis; and 11 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10 am. Monday in St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Dedham. Burial will be private.

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