MS governor picks Cindy Hyde-Smith to replace Sen. Thad Cochran

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MS governor picks Cindy Hyde-Smith to replace Sen. Thad Cochran

The Republican governor of MS intends to appoint a former Democrat to fill the seat Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is vacating next month.

Phil Bryant (R) is poised to tap state Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to replace retiring Sen.

Candidates from all parties will run together on a single ballot in the November special election, with the top two advancing to a runoff if no one wins more than 50 percent of the vote. She will be Mississippi's first female USA senator.

Hyde-Smith, who would become Mississippi's first-ever female senator, would hold the job until a November special election in which voters will select a candidate to fill the remaining two years of Cochran's term.

The Republicans familiar with the situation spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations and a decision that had not yet been announced publicly.

Once appointed, Hyde-Smith would immediately run for re-election for the almost three years remaining in Cochran's term. Bryant's office didn't immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

Hyde-Smith is expected to be backed by the national and Mississippi GOP establishment against challenges from insurgent Republican state Sen.

Cochran announced his departure in March, and his resignation takes effect April 1.

Democrat Mike Espy, a former congressman who also served as secretary of agriculture during Bill Clinton's presidency, has declared a "strong intention" to run for Cochran's seat. But on Tuesday morning, there was little confidence among them that he would get it.

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