The Latest: Governor calls Senate hopeful "opportunistic"

JACKSON, Miss. - The Latest on a U.S. Senate race in Mississippi (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Mississippi's governor has described a state senator's announcement that he'll run for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran as "opportunistic."

Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Wednesday that he will drop his primary challenge to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and instead seek the Magnolia State's other Senate seat. Cochran is also a Republican.

Asked about McDaniel's announcement, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said Wednesday that the "behaviour is a sad commentary" on McDaniel.

Bryant had once been seen as close to McDaniel but has increasingly expressed irritation with the lawmaker's political efforts. A Bryant spokesman had said earlier Wednesday that the governor wouldn't be pressured into appointing McDaniel to fill the vacancy after Cochran retires April 1.

McDaniel had qualified for the Wicker primary challenge before Cochran announced his April 1 retirement. The tea party-backed state senator nearly beat Cochran in a bitter 2014 Republican primary.

4:30 p.m.

A Mississippi state lawmaker who came close to defeating U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran now says he'll run for the retiring senator's open seat.

Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Wednesday that he will drop his primary challenge to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and instead seek the Magnolia State's other Senate seat.

McDaniel hours earlier Wednesday had told The Associated Press he remained undecided about switching. He qualified for the Wicker race before Cochran announced his April 1 retirement.

The tea party-backed state senator nearly beat Cochran in a bitter 2014 Republican primary.

McDaniel supporters rallied Wednesday at the state capitol before the announcement, urging Gov. Phil Bryant to appoint McDaniel to the vacancy before a November nonpartisan election.

Bryant says pressure won't affect his decision on the appointment.


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