Politics

Corker on Retirement: ‘At This Point, Nothing Has Changed’

Does not deny possibility of running for third term in 2018

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is listening to members of his party who have asked him to reconsider retiring after his term ends. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Bob Corker still plans to retire from the Senate once he completes his current term, despite reports he is reconsidering that decision.

“At this point, nothing has changed,” the Tennessee Republican said at a GOP fundraiser in Tennessee over the weekend.

Corker announced last September that his second term — which ends next January — would be his last.

But members of his party have recently encouraged him to reconsider his decision to retire, a spokeswoman for the senator said in a statement last week. Corker has lent them his ear.

“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.”

If Corker walks back his retirement and decides to defend his seat in 2018 — a possibility he did not shoot down at the fundraiser Saturday — that could ruffle some feathers in the more conservative factions of the state GOP.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a fierce and outspoken conservative, announced her campaign for the GOP nod in October soon after Corker said he would retire.

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.

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

Watch: Pence Energizes CPAC Crowd

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.