Politics

Report: Corker Weighing Re-election or Retirement

Source says Tennessee Republican senator has talked to McConnell about his future

While Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is deliberating whether to run again in 2018, he's taking steps for a campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker is weighing whether to run for re-election in 2018 or retire.

Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN last week that he was weighing the decision.

“As far as what am I going to do in the future, I'm still contemplating the future,” Corker said. “It's a tremendous privilege to do what I do, and to weigh in on the big issues. ... But I have not decided what I’m going to do in the future.”

A source familiar with Corker’s thinking told CNN that he is torn between staying in the Senate for another six years or returning to the business sector. But the source said Corker is preparing for a run, raising money and hiring as a consultant seasoned political operative Ward Baker, who led the Republican Senate Campaign Committee as the GOP maintained control of the Senate last year.

 

The source also said Corker has spoken to many people about his future, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who urged him to run again.

 

Corker became chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee when the Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015. Under conference rules, he would only have the first two years of his next term in that role — that is, unless his GOP colleagues decide to grant him an extension.

Corker was vocally critical of President Donald Trump last month, saying he “has not yet demonstrated stability nor some of the competence” needed for the job.

Corker’s remarks came after Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides of clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters that led to racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.

Trump shot back on Twitter at the time, saying that “he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run for re-election” in 2018.

Corker said that it was possible he and Trump discussed the matter in the past.

“We spend a lot of time together. We play golf,” he said. “We, you know, they talked to me about being potentially vice president, secretary of state, so I’ve had multiple conversations about the future with lots of people. So, I’m sure when we played golf, the topic came up.”

— Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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