JACKSON, Miss. — The Latest on the retirement of Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (all times local):
Mike Espy, a Democrat who served as President Bill Clinton’s secretary of agriculture, says he has a “strong intention” to run for an open U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi.
Espy says he admires and respects Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who announced Monday that he will resign April 1 because of health problems.
Espy says in a statement that it has been some time since he worked in Washington “and I have witnessed with dismay the continuing dysfunction.” He also says, “I have proven that I can work with everyone as long as the goal is a better Mississippi.”
Espy in 1986 became the first African-American in modern times to win a congressional seat in Mississippi. He was agriculture secretary in 1993 and 1994.
Conservative state lawmaker Chris McDaniel is not saying whether he’ll drop his Republican primary bid against Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and run instead for the seat being opened by the retirement of his former rival, Sen. Thad Cochran.
McDaniel told reporters Monday in Jackson, “It’s premature to discuss at this stage.” The state senator almost toppled Cochran in a tough 2014 primary.
McDaniel says his prayers are with the senator and his family.
“I want him to be healthy and happy,” McDaniel says. “We disagree politically but I have nothing but respect for his service.”
He jokes that he’s received 85 phone calls since Cochran’s announcement, but has “no idea” when he will decide, saying, “We’ll just leave it to God’s good plan.”
The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Republican Thad Cochran of Mississippi, tells The Associated Press he will resign April 1 because of health problems.
The 80-year-old Cochran stayed home for a month last fall with urinary tract infections, returning to Washington in October to give Republicans the majority they needed to pass a budget plan.
Cochran says in a statement Monday that he will fulfill his responsibilities to Mississippi and the Senate “through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle.”
He was first elected to the Senate in 1978 after serving six years in the House.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint a temporary replacement. Then a special election will be held to fill the rest of the term, through January 2021.