U.S. Senator Thad Cochran is stepping away from the seat he has held since 1978.
Cochran, who is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced Monday that he will resign on April 1 after the 2018 appropriations cycle is complete due to health reasons.
Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint a temporary replacement until a special election is held to elect a candidate to complete the rest of the term that ends in 2021.
“It has been a great honor to serve the people of Mississippi and our country,” Cochran said. “I’ve done my best to make decisions in the best interest of our nation, and my beloved state. My top concern has always been my constituents in Mississippi. My hope is that by making this announcement now, a smooth transition can be ensured so their voice will continue to be heard in Washington D.C. My efforts, and those of my staff, to assist them will continue and transfer to my successor.”
There has recently been much speculation about whether Cochran, 80, would finish his term.
“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” Cochran said. “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.”
Shortly after news of Cochran’s retirement became public, Yazoo City native Mike Espy announced that he will likely run for Cochran’s seat.
“It’s been some time since I worked in Washington, and I have witnessed with dismay the continuing dysfunction,” Espy said. “I have proven that I can work with everyone as long as the goal is a better Mississippi.”
Espy represented the Second Congressional District from 1987-1993 before being appointed Secretary of Agriculture by President Bill Clinton in 1993.