TENNESSEE | TN-sen

McConnell Not Concerned With Blackburn's Viability

Corker would face a tough road in a primary against Blackburn.

Kimberly Railey
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Kimberly Railey
Feb. 15, 2018, 9:38 a.m.

As Sen. Bob Corker (R) reconsiders his retirement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “remains satisfied with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-07), the incumbent’s presumptive successor.”

“Top Republican leaders, including McConnell and” NRSC Chairman Cory Gardner, “as well as senior Blackburn advisors, some of whom were working for Corker’s re-election campaign before he pulled the plug, are baffled by suggestions that the congresswoman is putting this race in jeopardy.”

“We simply haven’t been involved there; we haven’t been involved,” Gardner said Wednesday “when asked if he had concerns about Blackburn or was involved in coaxing Corker out of retirement.” (Washington Examiner)

WHAT THAT PRIMARY RACE WOULD LOOK LIKE. “Following a highly public spat with President Trump, some GOP strategists believe” Corker’s “path to renomination would be very narrow against .. Blackburn, who is more conservative and remains close with the president.”

“The situation has placed Republicans in a precarious position, caught between an incumbent and a congresswoman who has drawn significant support from the party’s establishment and grassroots. Meanwhile, Republicans are airing concerns that a Corker-Blackburn race would squander valuable resources ahead of a legitimate general-election challenge from” former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D).

“Republicans predicted a race between the two Tennessee heavyweights would play out along Trump fault lines. Blackburn was a Trump surrogate in 2016, while Corker’s verbal sparring with Trump culminated in the president declaring that the senator could not get elected dog catcher.”

Meanwhile, Club for Growth President David McIntosh “said in an interview that it is ‘likely’ his organization would spend in the primary to boost Blackburn if Corker ran.” (Hotline reporting)

STILL ON BOARD. Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said Blackburn has the group’s “strong support.” (release)

SURVEY SAYS. A poll released by Senate Conservatives Fund (Feb. 12-13; 600 LVs; +/- 4%) found Blackburn leading Corker 49 percent to 26 percent, while former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R) took 9 percent. (Breitbart)

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