Washington, D.C. An aide to six-term Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi says the lawmaker will run for re-election.
The Republican has been in the Senate since 1978, after serving six years in the House. He turns 76 Saturday.
Cochran is the top GOP lawmaker on the Agriculture Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations panel. His decision puts to rest speculation that he wouldn't seek another term.
Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel has announced he would seek the seat, setting up a primary contest.
McDaniel said Friday that Cochran has had a long and distinguished career.
"I look forward to a positive campaign based on the future of our state, our country and the Republican Party," said McDaniel. "As a strong conservative, I will fight to bring those values to Washington."
Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering recently said he would run for the office, if Cochran did not seek re-election.
He released a statement Friday:
"Congratulations to Senator Thad Cochran in his decision to seek re-election," said Pickering. "I look forward to his continued service to the great state of Mississippi. Senator Cochran has been the epitome of an honorable statesman and we are better off because of his service."
Here's reaction from other Mississippi officials:
"A true statesman, Senator Cochran has dedicated his life to serving the people of Mississippi," said Third District Cong. Gregg Harper. "Thad has my family’s full support. And Mississippi needs his leadership in the U.S. Senate now more than ever."
“I am delighted that Senator Cochran has decided to run for another term in the U.S. Senate," said U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican. "The people of Mississippi need his experience and proven conservative leadership more than ever. Thad’s work on behalf of Mississippi is a testament to his selfless dedication to our state and its future. He has my full support.”
“Deborah and I are pleased to hear of Thad’s intention to seek re-election," said Gov. Phil Bryant. "Sen. Cochran is a pioneer of the Mississippi Republican Party and has been instrumental in helping with my efforts to grow the economy and provide jobs for thousands of Mississippians. After Hurricane Katrina, Thad dedicated his time and influence to our state’s recovery efforts as we rebuilt from the nation’s largest natural disaster. Our state has benefited from Sen. Cochran’s leadership for over three decades. In today’s political environment, we need this experience for Mississippi’s future.”
“I am glad Senator Cochran is running for re-election and I, like thousands of Mississippians, had encouraged him to do so," said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. "He is the father of the conservative Republican takeover of Mississippi, and his wisdom will be an asset to the conservative cause as long as he serves. We as Republicans have a major fight in Washington to unwind the Obama agenda in the next six years, and we need our best minds on the job. I hope all Republicans will rally behind Thad Cochran.”
"From the Natchez Trace to the agriculture research in the Mississippi Delta, from Katrina Recovery on the Coast to the University Medical Center, Mississippians do not need to go far to see the work Senator Cochran has accomplished for our State," said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. "I look forward to supporting his reelection."