Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran to resign after four decades in office

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Thad Cochran announced Monday he is resigning effective April 1 because of health reasons, ending one of the longest and most storied political careers in MS history. He's been in shaky physical and psychological health for a good while now, and may have been postponing his retirement to get another cycle of federal spending under his belt as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He is the tenth-longest serving Senator in USA history, and previously served three terms in House of Representatives.

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Mike Espy, a Democrat who served as President Bill Clinton's secretary of agriculture, said Monday he has a "strong intention" to run for Cochran's seat. It comes the week after conservative firebrand state Sen. The Governor of Mississippi, Republican Phil Bryant, will appoint another Republican. He faced little opposition in most of his re-election efforts until 2014 when little known state Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) won a special election to fill Sessions' seat in December. "The governor has some time after the official resignation to appoint a caretaker to fulfill the rest of this term then that of course will depend on how the governor wants to play that".

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"I've done my best to make decisions in the best interests of our nation, and my beloved state", Cochran said in his statement Monday. That forced Cochran's political nemesis, Chris McDaniel, to declare for an uphill primary challenge to Senator Roger Wicker, instead of becoming an instant front-runner in a special election to succeed the old guy he almost defenestrated in 2014. "My top concern has always been my constituents in Mississippi", Cochran said in the statement.

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"On the Senate side, Thad Cochran was in charge, and few if any senators were of a mind to question what he wanted to do for the states hit by Katrina", Barbour wrote. In 1972, Cochran was elected into Congress and served until 1978, when he was elected into the Senate. That race grabbed national attention after a McDaniel supporter entered a nursing home without permission and photographed Cochran's wife, Rose, who was bedridden with dementia. The state's other senator, Roger Wicker, is up for reelection to begin with and is being challenged in the primary by - you guessed it - Chris McDaniel, back for another shot.