McConnell urging Mississippi gov to appoint himself if Cochran resigns: report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.) urged Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) to consider appointing himself to Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranEspy wins Mississippi Senate Democratic primary Bottom Line Mike Espy announces Mississippi Senate bid MORE’s (R-Miss.) seat if Cochran decides to resign, according to The Washington Post.

McConnell reportedly spoke directly to Bryant about potential Senate plans, while the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson confirmed that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE also discussed those plans with the governor.

Cochran, 80, has recently had health issues that raised concerns about a possible resignation, including a urinary tract infection late last year that kept him away from the Senate for several weeks. 

But sources told the Clarion-Ledger that Bryant isn’t interested in a Senate seat.

ADVERTISEMENTAnd in an emailed statement to the Post, Bryant touted Cochran’s service in the Senate and called the rumors about the senator resigning “insensitive.”

“Mississippi is stronger because of Sen. Cochran’s service, and I look forward to it continuing,” Bryant said in the statement. “Speculation about anything else is insensitive, irresponsible and unfair.”

Bryant attended Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night as McConnell’s guest and the two ate together before the speech, according to the Post.

McConnell wants to protect Republicans’ slim 51-seat majority ahead of this year’s midterm elections. By appointing himself, Bryant would present a roadblock for state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), who has reportedly expressed interest in the seat if Cochran resigns. 

McDaniel, a Tea Party favorite, drew the ire of McConnell and GOP leadership when he challenged Cochran in a vicious 2014 GOP primary. McDaniel is currently mulling a bid against Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerPrivate lawsuits are a necessary expedient in privacy legislation Bottom line GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill MORE (R-Miss.).

The state senator told the Post on Thursday that he’s delaying his decision about challenging Wicker “because of the multiple options.” McDaniel said he’s heard talk of McConnell urging the governor to appoint himself in the event of a vacancy.

“McConnell’s doing his best to find someone he thinks can hold off a strong challenger,” McDaniel said in an interview to the Post. “But, I just think the people want to have their say.”

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