Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) announced on Tuesday he will not run for reelection in 2018, confirming rumors that had swirled for months.
Corker, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the decision after extensive consideration, the Tennessean reports.
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"After much thought, consideration and family discussion over the past year, Elizabeth and I have decided that I will leave the United States Senate when my term expires at the end of 2018," Corker said in a statement. "When I ran for the Senate in 2006, I told people that I couldn't imagine serving for more than two terms. Understandably, as we have gained influence, that decision has become more difficult. But I have always been drawn to the citizen legislator model, and while I realize it is not for everyone, I believe with the kind of service I provide, it is the right one for me."
One instigator of Corker's choice was likely the threat of a primary challenger from his right. Conservative activist Andy Ogles had announced his intent; former state Rep. Joe Carr and state Sen. Mark Green have also considered contesting the senator.
Those primary challengers may have been motivated by Corker's public spat with President Donald Trump. The Tennessee senator publicly challenged Trump's "competence" in August, prompting the president to fire back in characteristic style on Twitter.
Strange statement by Bob Corker considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in '18. Tennessee not happy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2017
One dark horse candidate to replace the senator is sports commentator Clay Travis. The provocateur, who made headlines for saying on CNN that he only believed in "boobs and the First Amendment," said last week he was exploring a run for Corker's seat should the senator retire. Travis has not officially declared his intent, but started selling a campaign-style t-shirt on his website.
Another option? Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, at least according to Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R., Tenn.).
Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais just told me Peyton Manning (!) is indeed a possible 2018 senate candidate
— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) September 26, 2017
As for Corker, he simply seems proud to have had the chance to serve.
"Serving the people of Tennessee in this capacity has been the greatest privilege of my life. And as I spent the month of August traveling across our great state, I was reminded that we live in a unique place full of people who care deeply about the direction of our country," Corker said in closing.