Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) said Monday he will resign on April 1.
“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” the 80-year-old senator said in a statement Monday. “I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate.”
It has been a great honor to serve the people of Mississippi and our country. pic.twitter.com/IYk3qsFxKa
— Senator Thad Cochran (@SenThadCochran) March 5, 2018
The Associated Press first reported the resignation announcement.
Politico reported in December on the 80-year-old senator’s “physical and mental decline” and noted he hadn’t presided over a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee in months nor delivered a speech from the Senate floor all year.
Cochran joins Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in choosing not to seek re-election. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) resigned his office in January following allegations that he kissed and groped women without their consent, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned his senate seat to take his current position in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) won a special election to fill Sessions’ seat in December.
The Washington Post reported in early February that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had asked Mississippi’s governor, Republican Phil Bryant, to appoint himself to Cochran’s senate in the event of the senator’s resignation, according to two unnamed people familiar with the conversations. The Post, citing one unnamed person familiar with the situation, said Trump supported McConnell’s proposal.
The Post noted that Cochran’s resignation, according to Mississippi law, would trigger a special election to be held on Nov. 6. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote at first, the top two vote-getters compete in a run-off election, the Post reported.
The governor told the Post at the time that “speculation” about Cochran’s service was “insensitive, irresponsible and unfair.”
In a statement Monday, McConnell made no mention of any plan to fill Cochran’s seat but applauded the senator’s “well-earned reputation as a ‘quiet persuader’” and “his unfailingly even keel, sober expertise, and respectful demeanor.”
This post has been updated.