With questions about his health and mental state growing louder each day, an increasingly frail and confused Thad Cochran may resign from the Senate before his term is up.

Could this be the end of moderate control of the Senate GOP?

Politico reported:

The 79-year-old Cochran appeared frail and at times disoriented during a brief hallway interview on Wednesday. He was unable to answer whether he would remain chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and at one point, needed a staffer to remind him where the Senate chamber is located…

… when queried about whether he would stay on as Appropriations chairman, Cochran seemed confused and just repeated the question. “As chairman of the Appropriations Committee?” Cochran asked…

…When another reporter asked whether leadership had pressured Cochran to return for a vote on the budget resolution — a key moment in the tax reform debate — Cochran smiled and responded, “It’s a beautiful day outside.”…

…On one amendment, Cochran voted “yes” despite being told by an aide to vote “no.” The staffer tried to get the senator to switch his vote, but Cochran kept flashing the “thumbs up” sign, even walking over to the clerk tallying the vote and doing so. GOP floor staffers repeatedly told him the leadership wanted a “no” vote. Several more moments passed before Cochran realized he was voting the wrong way and then changed his vote.

Cochran’s ill health and spells of confusion have sparked speculation he will resign from the Senate or otherwise be unable to finish his term.

That would set up an appointed senator and massive special election battle, which could lead to the election of conservative firebrand and former State Senator Chris McDaniel.

Cochran barely defeated McDaniel in a 2015 Republican primary runoff, in a race marked by accusations of vote-buying and Democrat interference.

McDaniel has stayed active and is considering a 2018 challenge to Mississippi’s other Republican senator, Roger Wicker.

Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon is supporting McDaniel’s entry into that race. Bannon would “love to see me enter the U.S. Senate race, and that he’ll support me in whatever race I would run,” McDaniel tells Politico’s Playbook.”

McDaniel tells Politico he is not letting Cochran’s health dissuade him from passing on a Wicker challenge to wait for an open seat, and he is “praying for his full recovery so he can get back to work.

McDaniel, a fearless conservative, finds himself in a much better political environment than in 2014.

Real Clear Politics reported:

This time around, McDaniel and other potential challengers are hoping to capitalize on heightened GOP voter dissatisfaction with the Republican-controlled Congress. An analysis of the Alabama race by the Senate Leadership Fund, a Mitch McConnell-aligned super PAC that spent heavily on behalf of Strange, explained that GOP leadership has now become the new “bogeyman” for angry voters, who largely see Congress’ lack of legislative accomplishments as an impediment to the Trump agenda.

That dynamic is encouraging to McDaniel, who might otherwise have trouble arguing that someone like Wicker isn’t sufficiently conservative. The election of Trump seemed to scramble conservative ideology and angst regarding the status quo. Even McDaniel, who campaigned three years ago as a “true conservative” and plans to do so again, acknowledges the president’s inconsistencies.

With Wicker up in 2018, Cochran up in 2020 and a potential open seat in between, McDaniel has three chances to avenge his narrow loss and do what Roy Moore, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul have already done.