CNN’s John King reported on Sunday that Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is having “second thoughts” about his September decision not to seek re-election to the United Senate in 2018.
A “senior adviser” to Corker offered a qualified comment on the report later in the day, stating that Corker has not changed his mind about his decision–at least not yet.
But, to hear the “senior adviser” tell it, Tennesseans are just clamoring for Corker to reconsider, as The Tennessean reported, “It is true that Senator Corker has been encouraged by people across Tennessee and in the Senate to reconsider his decision, but at this point nothing has changed.”
Republican operatives around the state, however, poured cold water on the idea of widespread support for Corker.
the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported, “One plugged-in state Republican said ‘there are people encouraging Corker but as far as I know nothing has changed,’ then agreed, ‘it’d be real hard’ at this point for Corker, who announced Sept. 26 amid a fierce public spat with President Trump that he wouldn’t seek a third term,”
And every recent poll of Tennessee voters shows that Corker is extremely unpopular, especially among Republicans.
“Disapproval of Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has risen to 41 percent among Tennessee voters, according to the latest MTSU Poll, a 14-point climb since last spring and in the wake of his public feud with President Donald Trump,” Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) News reported in October.
“Among self-identified Republicans (35 percent or the sample), a 65 percent majority of those who say they have read or heard “some” or “a lot” about the conflict disapprove of Corker and approve of Trump,” MTSU News noted.
In October, shortly after Corker announced that he would not be seeking re-election to a third term in the U.S. Senate, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) announced she was running for the seat. Subsequently, former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN-08) announced he was in the race as well.
Two recent polls show that Blackburn leads Fincher in the August 2018 Republican primary by more than 45 points.
“Interestingly, the Blackburn-supporting Club for Growth polled a hypothetical matchup between the congresswoman and the incumbent in January and found that Blackburn would have 63-25 lead over Corker. The survey did not ask about a theoretical three-way race,” Erik Schelzig reported at the Tennessee Journal.
President Trump, who has had a number of Twitter dustups with Corker in recent months, is also apparently not enamored of the idea of a third term for Corker.
“You might recall last year, Corker questioned the President’s competence and in return, he earned the Twitter nickname, ‘Liddle Bob Corker.’ They are back on speaking terms – the Senator and the President, now – but one source familiar with the conversations says the president, quote, ‘will have no part of it,’ ” CNN’s King reported.
Former Gov. Phil Bredesen is the only candidate seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee. Bredesen is considered a formidable opponent in the general election.