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JACKSON (AP) – State Auditor Stacey Pickering says he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2014 if Republican Sen. Thad Cochran does not seek re-election.

Cochran has held the seat since 1978 and has said he’ll decide by the end of this month whether to seek another six-year term. However, a Cochran spokesman said the senator hasn’t specified when he’ll announce his plans.

If he seeks another term, Cochran will run with the advantages of incumbency, including name recognition and nearly $804,000 in campaign cash already on hand. If he doesn’t run, the race is expected to attract several candidates.

Pickering, a Republican, was elected state auditor in 2007 and re-elected in 2011.

Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced in October he is running for Senate, regardless of what Cochran does.

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