Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran released a statement announcing that he will resign from the Senate effective April 1. A special election will be held this November.
Rumors have been rampant for months that Cochran would leave the Senate early because of ill health. Currently, in his 7th term, Cochran was slated to be up for re-election in 2020.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint someone to serve until November when there will be a special election. The winner of that race will have to run for a full term in 2020. A number of Republican names have been mentioned, including Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who has gotten the most attention, but there is an open gubernatorial race in 2019 and Reeves, among others, has been looking at that contest. The other unanswered question on the Republican side is whether st. Sen. Chris McDaniel will switch races. McDaniel is currently in the GOP primary against U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker. Depending on who gets the appointment, and we doubt it will be McDaniel, he might see the special election as a better bet.
Democrats' challenge here is that they lack a bench of potential candidates. They have tried hard to recruit someone to challenge Wicker, but have fallen short. While it's possible that a prospective Democratic candidate might find a special election appealing, there are no likely suspects at the moment.
The race will stay in the Solid Republican column for the time being.
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call