- Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran announced he will resign from the Senate on April 1, after months of poor health issues.
- Cochran’s departure opens up another Senate election in Mississippi in addition to incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker’s reelection bid.
Republican Sen. Thad Cochran will resign next month, his office said in a statement on Monday.
Cochran, an 80-year-old from Mississippi, cited health concerns in his resignation that will take effect April 1.
“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” Cochran said. “I intend to fulfil 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.”
“It has been a great honour to serve the people of Mississippi and our country,” he added. “I’ve done my best to make decisions in the best interests of our nation, and my beloved state. My top concern has always been my constituents in Mississippi.”
Cochran’s health issues have been prevalent for some time. Last year, there were concerns he would not be present to vote for the Republican tax overhaul in December. Months prior, Cochran told CNN “it’s up for the people to decide” if he is mentally and physically capable of carrying out his Senate duties. “I think I am,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thanked Cochran for his service in a statement on Monday.
“Senator Cochran departs with our congratulations and gratitude for so many years of honorable and distinguished service, from his time as a Navy officer to nearly four decades in the Senate, and our warmest wishes for his retirement,” McConnell said.
The vacated seat will create another Mississippi Senate race to follow in 2018, in addition to Roger Wicker, who is attempting to hold on to his office in the wake of a primary challenge from far-right state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
“My hope is 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,” Cochran said in the statement.