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miércoles, 28 de febrero de 2018

Senator Bob Corker decides to retire – again

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) can’t seem to make up his mind but anything these days. The same lawmaker who once stood out as one of just a few mainstream Republicans to support Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency later elicited a media firestorm when he called the White House “an adult day care center” during a Twitter feud with the president.

Sen. Corker has likewise been uncertain about his future as a Tennessee senator, telling supporters that he had no ambitions beyond a second senatorial term before reversing course and intimating that he would seek reelection. However, Corker’s political fortunes appear to be staked to the president’s goodwill and sponsorship, and after Trump refused to support Corker in a hypothetical Republican primary, he no longer appears to have the stomach for a 2018 Senate race.  

Calling it quits — again

Corker appears to be resigning himself to a decision he made in September 2017, when he told reporters that he never planned to seek a third term as senator. Corker said:

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.

Yet, Corker’s decision may have had more to do with his deteriorating relationship with the president, and less to do with some obscure preemptive decision to limit himself to two terms. Following his announcement last Fall, Corker’s allies noted that their candidate made his decision not to run “in the heat of a feud with President Trump,” according to NPR.

Joining of fates

As for the president, Trump supported this narrative at the time, indelicately accusing Corker of dropping out because Trump refused to endorse him. In a series of tweets, Trump delighted in his rival’s floundering public support in the aftermath of their quarrel.

If the president could destroy Corker’s political aspiration, however, he could also rebuild his public image. Understanding this, Corker made overtures to the Trump administration, and the Washington Free Beacon soon reported that “Corker had been speaking with the White House in recent weeks as some allies encouraged him to reverse his retirement decision.”

Too little, too late

Unfortunately for Corker, it appeared that Trump was unwilling to reconcile with the senator. Trump ally and skilled fundraiser Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) is planning to run in the Republican primary, and Corker’s resignation should all but guarantee her the reliably Republican Senate seat.

It was no coincidence that Corker appeared to change his mind about the Senate race soon after it was clear that he would not receive the blessing of the president. In a public statement on Tuesday, Corker’s chief of staff, Todd Womack, insisted that this was the plan all along.

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,” Womack said.  “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,” concluded Womack, ”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.”

Despite attempts to insist otherwise, it’s more than possible that Corker choosing early retirement is tied to his relationship with the president.

While the Left and the establishment media were celebrating Corker’s opposition to the White House months ago, in this end this dissent was nothing short of political suicide for Corker. Other Republican lawmakers would be wise to learn from his example.