Senator Thad Cochran, the Republican Senator from Mississippi, has announced that he will submit his resignation to the Senate and will not hold the post from April 1. Cochran, first elected to Senate in 1978, presently holds the 10th rank for the longest-serving senators. He cited ill-health for this decision. He also holds the chairmanship of Senate Appropriations Committee.
Cochran's premature departure paves the way for another fellow GOP, Governor Phil Bryant, to be appointed as the interim successor to the post. A special election is slated to happen on November 6. There is also the possibility that State Senator Chris McDaniel, who had announced his primary challenge to the GOP Senator Roger Wicker during the last week of February, may actually switch races to fight the governor's 'choice' candidate. McDaniel declined to say anything on this matter, saying that all of this is a bit premature. He pointed out that all options should be considered in politics, and no possibility should be ignored.
President Donald Trump has endorsed Wicker. Since Cochran's retirement was known, conservative activists and donors have plotted for many months to win both Mississippi seats in 2018. To do this, a Super PAC has already been formed. More than one million dollars have already come into the campaign coffers. The majority donor, in this case, is the billionaire Robert Mercer.
McDaniel beat a March 1 deadline and declared his candidacy during the last week of February after considering whether to enter the race or to see Cochran's retirement. Many Republicans in Mississippi hold the view that McDaniel would find it much easier to win the seat earlier occupied by Cochran as the race for the seat in this special election is a non-partisan affair. In case no candidate wins an outright majority, then the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff election to be held on November 6.
Washington Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, have tried to persuade Bryant to ascend the post himself. People close to Bryant say that he is not keen on the job. To further complicate matters, Republicans may not want to leave Mississippi for Washington. Many of them are simply keeping their eyes on the events as they unfold. The governor has some time to consider his decisions. The Mississippi state laws provide him a 10-day gap after Cochran's resignation to appoint an interim senator.