Bryant Narrows List for Cochran Replacement

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said that his pick for an interim replacement for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) would come “sooner rather than later,” the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.

“Most folks are taking that to mean sometime this week.”

“And the Republican governor’s short list — according to numerous sources — has gotten short indeed: Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves — who had been Bryant’s top pick — doesn’t want the job largely because he has young children and doesn’t want to move his family to Washington, instead looking at a gubernatorial run in 2019.”

Bryant Urged to Appoint Himself to Senate Seat

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) has told Republicans that President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have urged him to appoint himself to the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Thad Cochran, who is retiring early due to health issues, the AP reports.

Bryant is limited to two terms as governor, and his time in that job ends in January 2020.

Espy Says He’ll Run for Cochran’s Seat

Former Rep. Mike Espy (D-MS) announced his “strong intention to run” for the U.S. Senate seat Thad Cochran announced he’ll leave April 1, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.

“Espy served as a Democrat in the U.S. House representing the 2nd District from 1987 to 1993 — the first African-American to hold a Mississippi congressional seat since Reconstruction, then served as secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration, the first African-American to hold that post.”

Wicker Gets a Primary Challenge

Chris McDaniel (R) is expected to announce later this week that he will wage a 2018 primary challenge against Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Politico reports.

“McDaniel’s plans have been the subject of speculation for months. With the 80-year-old Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) health in decline, many believed that McDaniel would run for the seat should it become vacant.”

Bryant Not Interested In Mississippi Senate Seat

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) “is not interested in going to the U.S. Senate, despite urging from President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,” the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.

“The Washington Post reported Thursday night that McConnell met with Bryant this week and asked the governor to appoint himself in the event that Sen. Thad Cochran stepped down in the coming months. Sources close to Bryant told the Clarion Ledger after the Post report was published that Bryant is not interested in such a scenario. The sources did confirm the conversation with McConnell and also said the president had talked to Bryant about the same thing.”

“The same sources said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) would be the leading candidate if Cochran steps down.”

McConnell Urges Bryant to Consider Senate Seat

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has asked Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) to consider appointing himself to the Senate if ailing Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) resigns from office, the Washington Post reports.

“President Trump, a supporter of Bryant, backs the plan, according to a person familiar with the situation, though there are several other options that both McConnell and Trump have discussed if Bryant declines.”

Mississippi Could Be Next Battleground In GOP Civil War

“Mississippi’s 2018 U.S. Senate race is poised as the next possible front in the fight between rival wings of the Republican Party, a campaign that could test how the GOP’s populist and establishment forces engage in the aftermath of this month’s bitter Alabama contest,” the Washington Post reports.

“If state Sen. Chris McDaniel, the hard right’s top recruit for the seat, decides to challenge U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, he will be up against the incumbent’s well-funded allies and President Trump, who has pledged Wicker his support. Those dynamics could trigger a broad intraparty clash such as the one that played out in Alabama, where the GOP lost a Senate seat for the first time in a quarter-century.”

Cochran Expected to Resign Next Year

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, “hasn’t presided over a hearing since early September. The Mississippi Republican has not given a speech on the Senate floor all year, and he’s introduced only two bills during that time, both of them minor,” Politico reports.

“The 80-year-old’s feeble performance has fueled expectations — among senators and aides who’ve witnessed his physical and mental decline firsthand — that Cochran will step down from the Appropriations chairmanship early next year, or resign from the Senate altogether.”

Said one GOP senator: “The understanding is that he will leave after Jan. 1, That’s what most of us believe will happen.”

McDaniel Mulls Challenging Wicker

Playbook: “Chris McDaniel (R), the GOP state senator who challenged Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in 2014, told us that he has had several conversations with Steve Bannon about his political future over the last month, including meetings at Breitbart’s headquarters on Capitol Hill… McDaniel has been toying with primarying Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).”

McDaniel said Bannon told him he would “love to see me enter the U.S. Senate race, and that he’ll support me in whatever race I would run.”