Speculation has abounded for several weeks that Sen. Thad Cochran (R) was about to announce that he would leave the Senate after 40 years of service due to health problems, and this week he made public his decision to retire. Now, the spotlight turns to Gov. Phil Bryant (R) and whom he will appoint to succeed Sen. Cochran.
Reports had surfaced earlier that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other GOP leaders were lobbying Gov. Bryant to appoint himself in order to give the Republicans their strongest candidate for the ensuing 2018 special election. Under Mississippi election law, an appointed Senator must stand for election in the succeeding general cycle in order to serve the balance of the current term. All candidates will be on the general election ballot, and if a candidate obtains a majority of the vote, the election is over. If no one reaches the 50% plateau, a run-off between the top two finishers will occur three weeks after the special general election.
Yesterday, Gov. Bryant unequivocally removed himself from consideration for the Senate seat, saying that there is “something nefarious” about making a move to appoint himself. There is yet no indication about who the Governor is definitively leaning toward, but Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann appear to be at the top of the prospective appointments list.
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