Politics

Corker ‘Listening’ to Encouragement to Reconsider Senate Race

Blackburn campaign blasts ‘ego-driven, tired old men’

A spokesperson for Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker confirmed he’s been “encouraged” to rethink his decision to retire at the end of this term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A spokesperson for Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker confirmed Tuesday night the Foreign Relations Committee Chairman is “listening” to pleas to reconsider his decision not to seek a third term.

“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,” spokeswoman Micah Johnson said in a statement.

“The senator has been encouraged to reconsider his decision and is listening closely,” Johnson added.

The candidate filing deadline for the August primary is April 5.

The Republican senator announced last September he would not run for re-election in 2018, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn announced her campaign for the GOP nod in October.

Democrats are excited about the prospects of former Gov. Phil Bredesen making the race competitive. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election race Likely Republican.

At least one Republican poll shows Blackburn losing to Bredesen. A Public Opinion Strategies survey of the race conducted for a Tennessee business group gave Bredesen a 47 to 45 percent advantage, according to Politico.

Blackburn’s campaign has blasted reports of Corker reconsidering the race because of doubts about Blackburn’s viability.

“Anyone who thinks Marsha Blackburn can’t win a general election is just a plain sexist pig,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said, pointing out Blackburn's strong fundraising and that she's lead in several general election polls.

“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,” Bozek said.

Corker ended 2017 with $6.2 million. (He raised $14,000 during the last quarter of the year.)

Blackburn’s campaign says it raised $2 million in the last quarter of the year and had $4.62 million at the end of the year.

Former Rep. Stephen Fincher announced his campaign for the GOP nod in October. He raised $1.45 million last quarter and ended the year with $3.7 million. Blackburn has led Fincher in primary polling that’s been made public.

Blackburn earned the backing of Susan B. Anthony List on Tuesday. She’s already been endorsed by the Club for Growth and the Koch network, which plans to stick with her even if Corker gets in, according to BuzzFeed.

A Club for Growth poll conducted by WPA Intelligence in January tested Corker against Blackburn. She led Corker 63 to 25 percent among likely GOP primary voters. The survey was conducted Jan. 14-15 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. 

Blackburn has been a strong defender of President Donald Trump, who carried Tennessee by 26 points in 2016.

Corker once campaigned with Trump and wanted to be his Secretary of State. But since Trump’s been in office, their relationship grew rockier. Responding to Trump’s comments about violence in Charlottesville, Va., last year, Corker said the president lacked “stability” and “competence.” 

Watch: Nearly One Year Into His Presidency, How Congress Reacted to Trump

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