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 McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE (R-Ky.) urged Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) to consider appointing himself to Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranGOP Senate candidate to African Americans: Stop begging for 'government scraps' Trump endorses Hyde-Smith in Mississippi Senate race GOP Senate candidate doubles down on Robert E. Lee despite Twitter poll 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 TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency 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 WickerTrump cancels Mississippi rally due to hurricane Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke GOP senators introduce bill to preserve ObamaCare's pre-existing conditions protections 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.”