Republicans are begging outgoing GOP Sen. Bob Corker – a frequent critic of Donald Trump – to reconsider his decision to retire because they are afraid deep-red Tennessee could fall into the Democratic column in November.
According to Politico, “Retiring Sen. Bob Corker is ‘listening’ to Republicans urging him to run for reelection.”
Citing recent polling, the Monday report notes that Trump cheerleader and frontrunner for the nomination, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, could lose the seat for Republicans and possibly hand the Senate majority back to the Democrats.
More from Politico:
The two-term Tennessee GOP senator decided to call it quits in September amid an on-again, off-again dispute with President Donald Trump that has eroded his standing with the party’s base. But now a faction of Republicans in Tennessee and Washington are worried that the favorite for the Republican Senate nomination, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), could lose the general election — and with it the Senate majority.
They want Corker to get back in to hold the seat and preserve waning foreign policy experience in the GOP. And there are signs that he is open to it, despite the steep climb a Republican primary might entail.
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.
Though it may seem like a great idea for Republicans to use Corker as a safety net in Tennessee, a last-minute change of heart would likely set up a brutal primary fight between Corker and Blackburn.
It would be a high-profile battle between two factions of the Republican Party: 1. The shameless Trump puppets who blindly follow the president (aka Marsha Blackburn); and 2. Those who think it’s important to call out Trump for his often reckless behavior (aka Bob Corker).
Given Trump’s continued unpopularity and how he has been a political kiss of death for GOP candidates over the past year – see Virginia and Alabama, 2017 – Corker would probably have the upper hand if he were to re-enter the race.
A spokesman for Blackburn was quick to shred the possibility: “It’s well past time for the good old boys’ club in Washington, D.C., to quit thinking they know who the best candidate and conservative leader is for Tennessee families.”
Republicans see a blue wave coming this fall, and they are scrambling to get in front of it. The fact that they are forced to do this in Tennessee – a state Trump won by nearly 30 points in 2016 – doesn’t bode well for their chances in actual battleground states.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.