Cochran, who turns 76 Saturday, has the support of many leading Republican in the state he has represented in Congress since 1978, but faces opposition in a primary election from Chris McDaniel, 41, a state senator aligned with the Tea Party movement, The New York Times said Friday.
Cochran said he would make his decision on whether to run again by the end of November but only made the public announcement Friday. Many state insiders expected him to step down, Politico reporting Cochran had only raised $53,000 in campaign funds in the third quarter of this year.
Experts said he would have no trouble getting re-elected if he decided to run again, but a poll indicates he would have to work at defeating his primary challenger, McDaniel.
The primary could be the toughest of his career and could offer insight into questions about the Republican Party in the Deep South, including whether longevity and the influence that comes from congressional seniority can overcome a national trend toward limited-government conservatism, the Times noted.