U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS, announced March 5 that he would retire from the Senate effective April 1, 2018.

Cochran, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, cited ill health as a factor in his decision.

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” he said. “I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate.

“It has been a great honor to serve the people of Mississippi and our country.  I’ve done my best to make decisions in the best interests of our nation, and my beloved state.  My top concern has always been my constituents in Mississippi.  My hope is by making this announcement now, a smooth transition can be ensured so their voice will continue to be heard in Washington, D.C.  My efforts, and those of my staff, to assist them will continue and transfer to my successor.”

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, will appoint Cochran’s successor. That appointee would serve until a November election, the winner of which would serve out the last two years of Cochran’s term.

Cochran was first elected to the Senate in 1978, becoming the first Republican in more than 100 years to win a statewide election in Mississippi.  He is the tenth-longest serving Senator in U.S. history.  Cochran previously served three terms in House of Representatives.