Speculation just a few months ago that U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., might become the next Central Intelligence Agency director is becoming a more real scenario based on numerous reports that President Donald Trump will dismiss Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Multiple news outlets are reporting that Tillerson would be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, with Cotton being the likely nominee for the CIA post.
Cotton’s office would not comment on the speculation, saying only, “Senator Cotton is focused on serving Arkansans in the Senate.”
A New York Times report suggested Cotton is interested in the move.
“Mr. Cotton has signaled that he would accept the job if offered, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations before decisions are announced,” according to the article, which also noted that the changes would happen at the end of the year or early 2018.
Cotton, 40, is a military veteran from Dardanelle (Yell County) who has had a fast rise up the political ladder. The 2002 Harvard Law School graduate served as Arkansas’ 4th District Congressman for one term (2013-2015) before defeating incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in the 2014 election.
If Cotton is nominated and approved by the U.S. Senate, Gov. Asa Hutchinson will have two options depending on when Cotton officially leaves the office, according to analysis by Wright Lindsey Jennings law partner Justin Allen.
“[If] Sen. Cotton vacates his seat before July 6, 2018, the Governor will appoint an interim Senator, and the seat will be filled at the 2018 general election on Nov. 6. The winner would then serve the remainder of Sen. Cotton’s term, which expires at the end of 2020. That winner could then run for a full 6 year term in 2020,” Allen noted in this analysis he recently provided to Talk Business & Politics.
Cotton’s term ends in 2020.
However, if Cotton leaves the office after July 6, Gov. Hutchinson would appoint an interim Senator to serve until the job is filled in the 2020 general election. The appointee would not be eligible to run in the special election.