Eighty-year-old Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, R, is expected to resign from the U.S. Senate in early January, according to one Republican senator who serves with Cochran on the Appropriations Committee.
“The understanding is that he will leave after Jan. 1,” the unnamed Republican told Politico. “That’s what most of us believe will happen.”
Cochran’s health has raised concerns about his ability to do his job and is fueling speculation on his retirement. He’s spent the last few months recovering from a urinary tract infection, and his availability for the vote on tax reform was in question last week as he underwent an outpatient procedure to “address a non-Melanoma lesion on his nose.”
According to Politico, Cochran, the powerful chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has not presided over a hearing since early September, has not given a speech on the Senate floor this year, has stopped meeting with his colleagues to discuss committee business, and has introduced only two minor bills this year.
Earlier this year, Cochran had to be corrected by an aide after he mistakenly voted for a budget amendment from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that cut $43 billion from the budget.
Cochran’s office has not confirmed any plans for retirement.
“Sen. Cochran has not made any statements regarding leaving office. He continues to do his work for Mississippi and the nation,” a spokesman, Chris Gallegos, said.
If he does leave the Senate, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, R, would appoint an interim senator until a special election can be held in November 2018. One Mississippi senator, Roger Wicker, R, is up for re-election in 2018. Cochran’s departure would put the other Senate seat in contention as well.
Former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, who challenged Cochran in the 2014 Republican primary and narrowly lost a heavily contested runoff election, is mulling another run for Senate or potentially for lieutenant governor.
“Whatever he does, I still have to prepare for a race,” McDaniel told Politico. “If I run against Wicker, the race is in June. If there is an open seat, the race is in November. If I run for lieutenant governor, that race is in 2019.”
If Sen. Cochran retires, he would follow Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in leaving yet another open seat in what is already shaping up to be a contentious midterm election season. The Republicans’ slim majority in the Senate was made even smaller when Republican candidate Roy Moore lost the Alabama special election for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat to Democrat Doug Jones, making the majority 51-49. Democrats hope they can repeat this upset victory in and retake the Senate in 2018.
Senator Cochran should resign. His record in the Senate and “F” Liberty Score demonstrate he is hardly an effective advocate for conservatism from deep-red Mississippi. If he can’t serve as a U.S. senator because of his health, he ought to step aside and permit the people of Mississippi to seek effective conservative representation.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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