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Updated 12:09 p.m. |

State Auditor Stacey E. Pickering told “The Gallo Show,” a statewide radio program, on Tuesday morning that if Cochran opts for retirement, he will run for Senate.

Although audio of the comments was not immediately available, Pickering’s office confirmed he made the statements. A Cochran decision on re-election is imminent — the senator has indicated he will make an announcement soon.

Pickering’s name surfaced earlier this fall as one of a handful of potential Cochran successors in CQ Roll Call’s Farm Team series.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel, a tea party candidate, already announced his challenge to Cochran earlier this fall.

The seat is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Update 12:09 p.m.

“My position has been very consistent throughout the last year and a half: If he retires, it is my intention to run for U.S. Senate. But until he makes that decision, it’s premature to be hiring a staff, putting together a campaign or anything else of that nature,” he said.

He added that his conversation on the radio program was posed as a hypothetical question on Cochran’s retirement — this was not a formal announcement. And, given that if Cochran runs for re-election he will face a primary, Pickering said the state’s senior senator can count on his backing.

“Mississippi’s a small state; we all know each other very well,” he said. “The senator has served Mississippi with great distinction, not just our state but our nation, and I’m proud of the job he’s done. And we’ll continue to work with him and support him.”

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