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Just how ill is Thad Cochran? Staff says he won’t return to Washington this week

Sen. Thad Cochran speaks to reporters outside of McElroy's in Ocean Springs in 2014, shortly before he defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the GOP runoff.
Sen. Thad Cochran speaks to reporters outside of McElroy's in Ocean Springs in 2014, shortly before he defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the GOP runoff. SUN HERALD File

Sen. Thad Cochran won’t be returning to the Senate on Monday as planned.

Brad White, chief of staff to Cochran (R-Miss), on Monday issued this statement:

“Mrs. Cochran informed me late Saturday night that Sen. Cochran has developed another urinary tract infection. After a day of monitoring his condition, and on the advice of his physicians and other health care professionals, Senator Cochran has postponed his return to Washington. He will continue his recuperation at home in Mississippi. The Senator has expressed his intention to return to the Senate when his health permits, and to fulfill his commitment and duties to the people of his state.”

His staff said last week that the senator, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, would be returning to Washington on Monday to resume work in response to tweets by President Donald Trump and other reports that said the senator remains ill.

There is much interest in the senator’s condition because it has been widely speculated that he will not finish his term. That, coupled with an election next year for the Senate seat held by Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker, would set off a free-for-all in Mississippi politics. State Sen. Chris McDaniel has all but declared his candidacy against Wicker in the GOP primary. The list of candidates for an open Senate seat would be long.

McDaniel in 2014 painted Cochran as an establishment candidate who was not conservative enough to represent Mississippi. That race, to put it mildly, was a wild one and remains the subject of a lawsuit over a suicide.

Breitbart and Steve Bannon, its leader, last weekend declared a “civil war” on establishment candidates it says aren’t conservative enough.

It also means the GOP has 51 votes in the Senate for the time being, meaning it will be even harder to advance its agenda.

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton

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