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Senator Cochran Announces Retirement

On Tuesday, longtime U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that he will be retiring on April 1, 2018.

In a statement, Cochran cited health issues as the reason for his early departure.

Senator Thad Cochran

Cochran has been a member of the Senate since 1978, and prior to that, he served as a U.S. congressman for three terms. He was a longtime advocate for pork-barrel spending, a position that earned him the ire of limited government conservatives.

In 2014, Cochran faced a competitive primary race against Mississippi Senator Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party firebrand who has served in the Mississippi Legislature since 2008.

Under suspicious and controversial circumstances, Cochran clinched the GOP nomination and went on to win the general election. Having never conceded the 2014 race, McDaniel recently announced that he will be challenging U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) in the 2018 GOP primary.

Now that Cochran is stepping down, two U.S. Senate seats will be open in Mississippi in 2018. This could prompt the Democratic Party, invigorated by its win in the 2017 Alabama Senate special election, to field legitimate candidates in the races.