Brad White, Sen. U.S. Thad Cochran’s district director, will be moving to Washington, D.C. in early January, to be the new chief of staff for Mississippi’s senior senator. White replaces Keith Heard who will return to the private sector as a lobbyist. White is an excellent choice to replace Heard. A former state chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, White has an impressive resume in state politics and Mississippi government. Despite his extensive state political and state government experience, some might question White’s lack of Washington experience. That is not an issue. Most chiefs of staff have political experience, are expected to manage the member’s staff, and serve as a senator or representative’s right-hand man or woman. White won’t have any problem handling any of those duties or other assignments Sen. Cochran might give him. Actual Washington and Capital Hill experience is more important for the usual number two staff position, the legislative director. Cochran’s existing staff has solid experience in that important area.
Gov. Bryant should back off telling people Sen. Cochran should resign and will not serve his full term
Thad Cochran just turned 79. Almost as soon as he was re-elected in 2014 when he defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a very close Republican Primary and Democrat Travis Childers in the general election, speculation soon became common that Cochran would not serve his full six-year term. Those reports continue to swell and it is no secret Gov. Phil Bryant is pouring fuel on those fires. There are several reports Bryant has told people in both Mississippi and Washington Cochran should retire before his term expires in four years. Reports Cochran will retire in a year or so have spiked several interesting rumors. If Cochran would resign, as Sen. Trent Lott did several years ago,
Bryant would appoint an interim replacement and is required to call a special election within 100 days unless it is a year when a regular statewide or congressional election is scheduled. One rumor is Bryant would appoint Congressman Gregg Harper of the Third District as interim senator, giving Harper a leg up in a special election. The two are close political allies. Harper vacating his congressional seat to accept a senate appointment would allow state Sen. Josh Harkins of Flowood to seek Harper’s seat. Harkins would be a strong candidate and is very highly regarded as a state senator with a bright political future. Just as important is Harkins is from Rankin County and also represents part of Madison County, both Republican strongholds. This would give him an excellent political base in the Third Congressional District. The second rumor making the rounds is even more interesting, if not bizarre. If Sen. Cochran steps down before the end of his term and Phil Bryant is still governor, Bryant would appoint himself to serve until the special election. It would sound almost noble when Bryant proclaims he would only serve until a special election is held and thus any other interim senator would not have a leg up in the special election. Under this scenario, Bryant could ride off into the sunset with a political resume of having served as state auditor, lieutenant governor, governor and U.S. Senator. There’s also little doubt that Bryant kingmaker Josh Gregory – I prefer Prince Josh – would have a big hand in any political games being played. I know this. Sen. Cochran deserves better. I repeat. Sen. Cochran deserves better. He has done a lot for Mississippi and is one of the most decent individuals to ever serve our state as a public official. As far as Brad White, Cochran’s new chief of staff, White was very forceful in making clear when asked by Cochran to be his chief of staff, he gave a commitment to the position for the balance of Cochran’s full term. Cochran may be 79 years old, and while some may question his health and ability to serve, a 40-year old senator could have his career ended by being hit by a car while crossing the street. Also, while White did not say this to me, it is well known in state Republican circles that White “is not a Phil Bryant guy.”