Thad Cochran is taking his sweet time.
The Senate’s 2014 battle lines are already largely set with the increasingly glaring exception of Mississippi. But Cochran won’t say whether he will run for a seventh term and has indicated it will be months before he decides, stalling potential successors from laying groundwork in the race ahead of an impending spring primary.
Publicly, the state’s House delegation and officials back home are urging Cochran to run again, playing up his seniority in the Senate along with his collegial demeanor and 40 years of experience in Congress. But if Cochran surprises his state by stepping down, he will set off a round of intense jockeying among Mississippi Republicans privately eyeing the prize of a Senate seat that hasn’t been open since 1978, when Cochran was sworn in after a stint in the House.