JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republicans suddenly find themselves defending two seats in Mississippi as they try to maintain their slim majority in the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Roger Wicker is already up for re-election in the deeply conservative state. And 80-year-old Sen. Thad Cochran announced Monday that he is resigning April 1 because of poor health.
Cochran is just over halfway through a six-year term. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint someone to temporarily succeed Cochran, and a special election will be in November.
The open seat is expected to attract several candidates. President Bill Clinton’s first agriculture secretary, Democrat Mike Espy, says he has a “strong intention” to run.
Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel could jump in. He narrowly lost a bitter race to Cochran in 2014.