Tennessee governor considering Senate run

Tennessee governor considering Senate run
© Getty Images

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) says he's considering running to replace Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGrassley: No reason to delay Kavanaugh hearing The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world Murkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify MORE (R-Tenn.) when Corker retires in 2018, adding a heavyweight name to what could be a crowded Republican primary. 

"It merits some time thinking about it and praying about it, which I'll do over the next several days," Haslam told reporters, according to The Tennessean
 
"Quite frankly I was hoping and expecting Bob to run ... So I have not spent a whole lot of time thinking about it and being in the United States Senate is not something that I've long dreamed about or thought about." 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
Corker's surprise retirement announcement stunned lawmakers and reporters on Tuesday. While the senator said earlier this month that he had not decided whether to run, most had expected Corker to seek another term. 
 
But Corker wasn't guaranteed to win reelection. Conservatives, including Breitbart News chief and former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, had looked to fund a primary challenge against Corker from the right as retribution for Corker's criticism of President Trump. 
 
Now that Corker is no longer running, the field is wide open. Conservative activist Andy Ogles, who jumped in before Corker's retirement, is the only candidate in so far. But Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world Kavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates MORE (R-Tenn.), state Sen. Mark Green and former state Rep. Joe Carr continue to weigh bids. 
 
Many Tennessee Republicans believe that Haslam or Blackburn would be the favorites if they jumped in the race. Haslam has a strong favorability score in the state as well as the statewide visibility, while Blackburn is a veteran politician who has been a vocal supporter of Trump. 
 
Green is a popular face among Tennessee conservatives and Carr ran a stronger-than-expected primary challenge against Alexander in 2014. 
 
On the Democratic side, Nashville attorney and veteran James Mackler is the only declared candidate in the race. But Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and Nashville businessman Bill Freeman are weighing bids.