Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker announced Tuesday he will not seek reelection in 2018 after weeks of speculation regarding his political future.
“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,” the two-term lawmaker 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.”
Corker, who chairs the influential Committee on Foreign Relations, has weighed retirement for months but remained undecided about his future as recently as two weeks ago. He attributed his decision, in part, to a desire to concentrate on legislating in the remaining 15 months.
“I also believe the most important public service I have to offer our country could well occur over the next 15 months, and I want to be able to do that as thoughtfully and independently as I did the first 10 years and nine months of my Senate career,” the statement read.
Corker has established himself as a bipartisan dealmaker and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, a stance that may have left him vulnerable to a primary challenger from the right.
The Tennessee Republican, who was considered by the Trump administration for Secretary of State, lashed out at Trump for his response to the racially charged violence that occurred in Charlottesville in August.
Trump has “not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” Corker told reporters in Tennessee.
Trump responded a week later in a characteristically blunt tweet.
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
Despite their past disagreements, the pair met for a hour long talk at the White House on Sept. 15, during which Corker made known his priorities on tax reform and Obamacare repeal. Both the White House and Corker’s office reported that the meeting was “very productive.”
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thanked Corker for his service and praised his leadership “at home and abroad” in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
“Bob has been an integral member of our team and confidant of mine during his time in the Senate. His leadership on important issues has helped guide our Conference and had a real impact at home and abroad. I know he looks forward to being a part of the important agenda items we have in front of us for the remainder of this Congress,” the statement read in part.
Conservative activist Andy Ogles has already announced his candidacy and a number of other Republicans including former state Rep. Joe Carr and state Sen. Mark Green are considering a run for his seat as well. Former White House advisor Steve Bannon was reportedly considering backing one of Corker’s challengers.
Corker concluded his statement by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to represent Tennessee.
“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,” the statement concludes.
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