WASHINGTON (WTVC) - WTVC has confirmed that Tennessee U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R) has made a final decision on whether to re-enter the Senate race, a contest that was thrown into turmoil after his decision last year to not seek re-election.
In a statement, Todd Womack, Corker's Chief of Staff, tells WTVC:
“Over the past several months, Senator Corker has been encouraged by people across Tennessee and in the Senate to reconsider his decision not to seek re-election. Based on the outpouring of support, we spent the last few days doing our due diligence and a clear path for re-election was laid out. However, at the end of the day, the senator believes he made the right decision in September and will be leaving the Senate when his term expires at the end of 2018. When he ran for the Senate in 2006, he told Tennesseans that he couldn’t imagine serving for more than two terms because he has always been drawn to the citizen legislator model and believes public service should be missional. This has been the greatest privilege of his life and he is forever grateful to the people of the Volunteer State for the opportunity to serve our state and country."
Corker announced last fall that he would not run for re-election.
The news of his latest decision on his political future broke at Politico, which reports the move ends a period of intense speculation in Tennessee and Washington about Corker’s future, avoiding what could have been an ugly primary between Corker and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
Politico reports, "The White House made clear to the senator’s team that the president would not get involved in a potential primary between Corker and Blackburn, according to a source familiar with the conversations."
Blackburn's office issued this statement shortly after the news broke:
"I want to thank Senator Corker for his dedicated service on behalf of Tennessee families. Now, we can unify the Republican party and focus on defeating Democrat Phil Bredesen in November. As we continue to take our campaign to every corner of the state, I'm looking forward to listening to Tennesseans' families and sharing my ideas on how we can get the United States Senate back to work and pass President Trump’s agenda." - Marsha Blackburn
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) tweeted about Corker's decision:
Bob Corker is a terrific United States senator and a good friend. I was disappointed in his decision not to run for reelection but respect that decision. I invited Marsha Blackburn to breakfast this morning. We had a good discussion about a variety of issues that we both care about and how we might work together to make the Senate a more effective institution.
This is a developing story and will be updated.