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

McConnell urging Mississippi gov to appoint himself if Cochran resigns: report
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPolitical figures pay tribute to Charles Krauthammer Charles Krauthammer dies at the age of 68 Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos MORE (R-Ky.) urged Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) to consider appointing himself to Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTodd Young in talks about chairing Senate GOP campaign arm US farming cannot afford to continue to fall behind Mississippi Democrat drops 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 TrumpTom Arnold claims to have unreleased 'tapes' of Trump Cohen distances himself from Tom Arnold, says they did not discuss Trump US military indefinitely suspends two training exercises with South Korea 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.

And 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 WickerGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Overnight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council Senators question Afghanistan commander nominee on turning around 17-year war 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.”