The GOP received two shocks on Tuesday when Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) decided not to run for re-election in 2018 and Judge Roy Moore defeated incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the Republican primary.

But how YUGE is Corker’s retirement? Probably not much in the long run. Plus, it looks like the GOP could actually pick up more seats in 2018 since 10 Democrats up for reelection come from states that President Donald Trump won in November.

The GOP only holds a two seat majority in the Senate, which we have seen come into play numerous times this year. Remember, two senators defected when it came to confirming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Vice President Mike Pence had to come in and cast his tie-break vote.

Corker’s Tennessee Seat

More than likely it’s safe for the GOP since President Donald Trump won the state by 26 points last November. The Washington Post said that rumors have floated around that Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Gov. Bill Haslam, both Republicans, want it.

Besides, this isn’t too surprising since Corker said he didn’t want to serve more than two terms. But we all know how politicians don’t generally keep their word.

After Steve Bannon left his post as Trump’s chief strategist, he returned to Breitbart News (where I used to work) and quickly made it known that he would fight the establishment. The publication took aim at Corker and promoted a story on potential primary challenger state Sen. Mark Green.

The Washington Times reported earlier this month that former state Rep. Joe Carr had thoughts of challenging Corker. He accused “the incumbent of being too reluctant to back President Trump’s agenda.”

How about Peyton Manning? Yes, THAT Peyton Manning. From Business Insider:

Shortly after Corker’s announcement, Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais said he did not think Manning would run for Corker’s seat, but instead could be eyeing Sen. Lamar Alexander’s seat in 2020 if he chooses to retire as well.

“[Peyton Manning] is a great guy and a popular guy,” DesJarlais said, adding that Manning “may be looking more at” running if Alexander decides not to run again.

Believe it or not, Democrats actually have some excitement about a vacant Tennessee state. A few weeks ago, Politico reported that the Democrats have their eyes set on former Gov. Phil Bredsen or former lawyer James Mackler:

Even if Bredesen stays out, Democrats seem content with an announced candidate against Corker: James Mackler, a 44-year-old lawyer who joined the military after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, flew Black Hawk helicopters and fought in the Iraq War, and then joined the JAG Corps and prosecuted sexual assault cases. Mackler made the rounds at the DSCC donor retreat in Martha’s Vineyard, making a favorable impression on donors and lending his candidacy extra legitimacy, some said.

In an interview, Mackler said he thought Tennesseans and national Democrats both were ready to get behind a candidate with his “proven track record of service and sacrifice.” Mackler attacked Corker as overly partisan, and said the Tennessean’s criticisms of Trump weren’t backed up by actions.

Shaky Democrat Seats

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has claimed that the Democrats will win the Senate, but Katie Martin, the spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has laughed at the notion. She pointed out that 25 Democrats face reelection and 10 of them represent states that Trump won.

Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill represents Missouri, a state won by Trump by 19 points. She was popular with failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, which could do her in. Also, Democrats have also slowly dropped off in the state, including the 2016 state senate race.

Then there’s Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a state Trump won by 42 points. Manchin has shown to be a moderate Democrat, willing to work with Trump and the GOP. He even voted for one or two of Trump’s Cabinet picks. But since Trump won West Virginia by a large margin, it has awoken the GOP and they think they have a chance to take that seat. From The Hill:

But Trump’s popularity in West Virginia has drawn interest from strong Republican candidates, and the winner will pose a serious threat to Manchin’s political future. And Democrats can’t be encouraged by Gov. Jim Justice’s decision to ditch them and become a Republican last month, a decision he announced with Trump at his side.

Other possibilities include Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), both states that Trump won. Like Manchin, Heitkamp doesn’t always toe the party line and voted for some of Trump’s Cabinet picks. State Sen. Tom Campbell has already decided to challenge her for the seat, claiming that he “better exemplifies the values of voters in the conservative state.”

Tester is still one to watch, even though the top GOP picks are no longer available. Former Rep. Ryan Zinke is Interior Secretary while Attorney General Tim Fox chose to run for governor. But there’s still some hope since Trump won the state and Tester has not won an election by more than 50%.


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