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Cochran deserves our thanks for service

The news so many in Mississippi and Washington, DC have expected came Monday. Sen. Thad Cochran announced his intention to retire, effective April 1.

Cochran’s health has led to much speculation about whether he would finish out his term.

He acknowledged that in a statement announcing his resignation.

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge. I intend to fulfill 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,” he said in a statement. “It has been a great honor to serve the people of Mississippi and our country.  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.  My hope is by making this announcement now, a smooth transition can be ensured so their voice will continue to be heard in Washington, DC.  My efforts, and those of my staff, to assist them will continue and transfer to my successor.”

Cochran was first elected to the Senate in 1978.  He is the 10th-longest serving senator in U.S. history.  Cochran previously served three terms in the House of Representatives. He is currently serving as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint a temporary replacement, and then a special election will be held to fill the rest of the term, through January 2021.

There will be much speculation about who Bryant will appoint. There has even been talk of Bryant appointing himself. No doubt many will jump into the race to fill Cochran’s shoes.

But before all of that, Mississippi should take a moment and thank Cochran for his service.  His seniority has benefited Mississippi in countless ways. The state relies on more federal dollars than any other, and Cochran has helped steer federal funding this way for years. He previously served as Appropriations chairman from 2005-2007.

Cochran won’t be easy to replace. It will be a long time before Mississippi again has a senator with as much seniority — and the influence that comes with it — as Cochran.