Corker Sticks With Retirement Decision, Won’t Seek Reelection in 2018

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker
Sen. Bob Corker / Getty Images

Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) will stick with his decision to retire and not seek reelection this year, his chief of staff said in an interview Tuesday.

"He’s always believed and served as though he were only going to be in the Senate for two terms," Todd Womack told Politico. "And he was willing to listen to folks but he really believes the decision he made in September was the right one and is going to be leaving the Senate at the end of the year."

Corker first announced in September that he would retire at the conclusion of his second term and not run for reelection in 2018, but he had suggested in recent weeks that he might reconsider his decision and see reelection after all.

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Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), a Trump ally, has already announced her bid for Corker's seat. She held a large lead in a recent poll asking voters who they would support in a hypothetical Republican primary matchup with Corker, who feuded with the president last fall.

According to reports, Corker had been speaking with the White House in recent weeks as some allies encouraged him to reverse his retirement decision, but the Trump administration made it clear that it would not get involved in any primary battle with Blackburn.

Corker and Trump have had their ups and downs since 2016, when Corker was considered as a potential running mate and later to run the State Department.

Their relationship then deteriorated, with Trump tweeting last year that Corker "begged" for his endorsement and "didn't have the guts" to run again without the president's support. Corker called the White House an "adult day care center" in response.

The two have since mended their relationship.

Blackburn is expected to cruise to the Republican nomination. Her likely opponent on the Democratic side is former two-term Gov. Phil Bredesen.