Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is encouraging speculation that he may change his mind about not running for re-election to a third term in the U.S. Senate from Tennessee.
Corker announced that he would not seek another term in the Senate on September 26. Shortly after, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) announced that she would seek the seat Corker is vacating.
“In recent days, people across Tennessee have reached out to Senator Corker with concerns about the outcome of this election because they believe it could determine control of the Senate and the future of our agenda. The senator has been encouraged to reconsider his decision and is listening closely,” Corker spokesperson Micah Johnson told Fox News on Tuesday.
But few, if any, actual voters in Tennessee seem to have expressed a desire to see the very unpopular Corker reverse his decision.
In fact, grassroots Tea Party activists in Tennessee are on fire with the idea of trouncing Corker in the August Republican primary, should he decide to challenge Blackburn.
“If Corker makes it official that he’s running, I am calling Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s office in the next minute and offering every ounce of time, energy, events coordination, and money I can muster,” former Putnam County Republican Chairman and conservative activist Rachel Welch tells Breitbart News.
“And I would look forward to the #humiliation Corker would suffer in losing as an incumbent. Go away Liddle Senator Bob Corker. Just GO AWAY,” Welch adds.
“Marsha Blackburn could not ask for better news than Bob Corker getting back into the race. Corker and Fincher will split the establishment vote. That assumes Fincher stays in the race,” Judson Phillips, founder and president of Tea Party Nation and a long-time Tennessee resident tells Breitbart News.
“The Washington swamp wants Corker back in the Senate because they know Marsha Blackburn will put the interests of real Americans above that of the swamp,” Phillips says.
“Bob Corker has been testing the water for a possible reversal of his decision to retire from the Senate. We offer him a resounding no confidence! During his time in DC, Corker supported Obama’s bailouts, reinvigorated the Dodd-Frank bill by first supporting a Dodd-Corker version, and has been a frequent critic of President Trump,” Mark A. Skoda, a long time Tennessee Tea Party activist and founder of the America First Federation tells Breitbart News.
“Frankly, we would oppose him from Memphis to Johnson City,” Skoda adds.
“It is time for new blood in the U.S. Senate and a vigorous defense of our President’s policies while also opposing the Democrats’ efforts to thwart that agenda. Bob Corker has been reaching across the isle while the Democrats have been all too willing to allow him to betray his constituents and become their bosom buddy! We want a fighter who will oppose the Democrats at every turn. Bob Corker, please go home,” Skoda concludes.
“In 2014, State Rep. Joe Carr challenged Senator Lamar Alexander in the race for U.S. Senate. Carr spent very little time and money in East Tennessee. Yet, the tea parties of Sevier, Blount, and Louden Counties were instrumental in giving Carr a resounding victory in those counties in Sen. Alexander’s own back yard, even though statewide Carr lost 49 percent to 40 percent,” Steve Osborn, founder and president of the Sevier County Tea Party tells Breitbart News.
“If Senator Corker does decide to run for reelection, I can promise we would work even harder than we did in 2014 to ensure his defeat,” Osborn adds.
The purported reason for Corker’s “second thoughts” is concern that the likely Democratic nominee in the 2018 Senate race in Tennessee, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, threatens the GOP’s hold on Corker’s seat in a general election race against Blackburn, the runaway front runner for the Republican nomination.
“Corker weighs his options as GOP frets about losing Tennessee,” the headline of an article in Politico claimed on Monday:
An internal poll taken in late January shows former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen narrowly edging out Blackburn in a hypothetical match-up. With Republicans controlling just 51 seats, a loss in Tennessee and other competitive races could put the Senate in play — despite an electoral map tilted heavily in the GOP’s favor.
The poll, conducted by Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies for a Tennessee business group and obtained by POLITICO, shows Bredesen up 47 to 45, despite a sample that was overweighted with Republicans. The survey shows that voters preferred a generic Republican over a Democrat and strongly approved of Trump, signs that even in a Republican-leaning state like Tennessee, Blackburn is in for a tough race.
But Tennessee voters are more than skeptical about the “leaked” results from this “internal poll.”
“The latest salvo in this was the poll cited in Politico saying that Bredesen would beat Marsha. Aren’t these the same outfits that kept telling us that Hillary Clinton was going to decisively beat Donald Trump?” Tea Party Nation’s Phillips notes.
The speculation over Corker appears to be almost exclusively generated by establishment Republican politicians in Washington, D.C. and in Tennessee.
“The reality is the GOP establishment prefers the Democrat, Bredesen, over Blackburn, because she is a real conservative, and they are more aligned with the big government policies of Bredesen,” one long time Tennessee GOP political operative tells Breitbart News.
A case in point is the recent public statement of former Gov. Don Sundquist, who said he would not support Blackburn.
Sundquist is bitter because Blackburn was one of the state legislators who led the successful charge to stop his unpopular proposal to introduce a state income tax in Tennessee in 2000.
On Tuesday, Fox News reported:
The Blackburn campaign is strongly pushing back, with spokesman Andrea Bozek telling Fox News, “Anyone who thinks Marsha Blackburn can’t win a general election is just a plain sexist pig.”
“She’s the best fundraiser in the country and is beating Phil Bredesen in several polls,” Bozek said. “We aren’t worried about these ego-driven, tired old men. Marsha has spent her whole life fighting people who told her she wasn’t good enough and she will do it again.”
A poll released in December by a political action committee supportive of President Trump had Blackburn ahead of Bredesen 43 percent to 34 percent. Influential conservative players, like Club for Growth and the Koch political network, have also indicated they would stick with Blackburn even if Corker runs.
With the filing deadline of April 5 fast approaching, Corker will have to make a decision very soon if he wants to reverse course and get back in the race.
The risk of doing so for Corker will be very high.
In addition to the very real possibility that he will face a humiliating defeat, a number of business problems that helped chase him out of the race in September are likely to resurface.
Until he makes a definitive statement, Corker appears to be enjoying the limelight and trying to exact the maximum leverage possible out of all the speculation about his future plans.