WASHINGTON (WTVA) -- After serving nearly 46 years in Congress, U. S. Senator Thad Cochran says he intends to resign effective April 1.
In a news release sent Monday afternoon , Cochran says his health is an ongoing challenge.
He says he intends to fulfill his reponsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the appropriations cycle.
Cochran served in the U. S. House of Representatives for six years before winning election to the Senate in 1978.
Governor Phil Bryant will now appoint an interim senator, and a special election for Cochran's seat will be held in November.
There's already one candidate, a Democrat, who has expressed his intention to run, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary and former U.S. Representative Mike Espy.
Another possible candidate is Republican state Senator Chris McDaniel, who is not ruling out moving from his current race with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker to the one for Cochran's seat.
As for Wicker, he has joined many other Republican leaders in praising Cochran's service to the state.
"Thad Cochran will go down as one of the greatest leaders in our state’s history," said Wicker. "He has been called the ‘quiet persuader’ for good reason. He commands respect through his tireless pursuit to help make Mississippi and our country a better, safer, more prosperous place to live. He has made us proud in so many ways. I wish my friend the best in retirement and thank him for a job well done."