Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) announced on Tuesday that he won't be running for reelection in 2018, according to The Hill. This makes him the first senator to announce his retirement plans ahead of next year's election. It is expected to create a scramble among Republicans in the state to find somebody to succeed him. As a result, it can now be expected to be a heated primary fight.
"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," said Corker.
Corker believes that the most important public service he has left to offer will be in the next 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," he said.
He continued, “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."
Senator Lamar Alexander, Corker's Tenessee colleague, said that this announcement will leave a big hole in the Senate.
“Even when he’s been investigating smugglers’ tunnels near the Gaza strip, talking to foreign leaders, or giving advice to President Trump, Bob has never let his feet leave the ground in Tennessee,” Alexander said in a statement, according to Fox News. “His absence will leave a big hole in the United States Senate, but I know he’s carefully weighed his decision, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he tackles next.”
After being elected, Corker quickly earned the reputation as a man who would side with then-President George W. Bush on some issues, but would always challenge him on others. Corker, for instance, backed an energy bill that his fellow Republicans tried to kill. He also went against the Republican White House and supported the expansion of a health coverage insurance program for children.
Corker was thereafter easily re-elected in 2012 against Democrat Mark Clayton.
Two years later, Corker became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a position that elevated his reputation and national profile, thereby putting him at the center of many national and international issues.
Corker has at times served as both an ally and a critic of President Trump. Last month, Corker criticized Trump after what the senator deemed an inadequate response to the white nationalist violence in Virginia. Trump later responded by saying that Tennessee wasn't happy with Corker. Trump then revealed that Corker, in private, had been asking whether he should even run.
According to CNN, the retiring senator has also claimed that President Trump doesn't have the stability or competence to be a successful leader. Corker also apparently thinks that President Trump hasn't demonstrated that he understands what it means to make a nation great. In this regard, Corker joins the establishment ranks of Lindsey Graham from South Carolina and John McCain from Arizona, in being an outspoken critic of President Trump.