Why Bob Corker would be re-elected

Hank Hayes • Updated Oct 19, 2017 at 11:36 AM

People seem to think Tennessee GOP U.S. Sen. Bob Corker wouldn’t stand a chance to be re-elected in 2018 considering his recent anti-President Trump Tweet and subsequent backlash.

I’m here to make the argument that Corker, who’s said he will not run for a third term in 2018, would have been re-elected.

Corker’s campaign account had about $6.5 million in it as of last summer. He could also have been a self-funder if he couldn’t raise more cash, but incumbents always attract donors.

I asked him back when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 about how much money a campaign could go through in a week considering a statewide candidate has to do TV ads in five markets. His answer: About $800,000. That number will probably double next year, or be even more. Advocacy groups play a greater role in political advertising today, and Corker would draw both positive and negative ads from them.

Corker does not back down from a political fight. A case in point: Democrat Harold Ford Jr., on Oct. 27, 2006, tried to crash a Corker news conference in Memphis at the peak of their U.S. Senate race. Ford, who got much of his campaign cash from Hollywood, got taken to the woodshed. Corker branded the confrontation as Ford’s “Memphis Meltdown.” I covered that race. Ford competed hard in GOP-leaning Northeast Tennessee and still got beat.

Last year, Corker wasn’t backing down from Trump. Corker, at a stop in Rogersville, said GOP presidential nominee Trump should “honor the service” instead of feud with the Muslim family of a slain American soldier.

While it would be a contentious GOP Primary next year, I think Corker would have won. Why? For one thing, Democrat Trump haters would cross over and vote for him in the GOP Primary. I believe he would win back Trump voters and other Republicans. I don’t think there’s a Democrat who could beat him in the November general election.

Corker’s not about the politics. He’s about getting things done. And that, I think, should be the measuring stick for Tennessee’s next U.S. Senator.