Republicans will have to defend another Senate seat in 2018, with the surprise announcement that Bob Corker is leaving after just two terms. Corker chairs the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and it’s unusual for a politician to walk away from that kind of power so soon (many have stayed until they had to be removed from office by pall bearers.) But Corker said he believes in the “citizen legislator” model and told people when he first ran that he couldn’t imagine serving more than two terms.
While Corker likely would have won reelection in Tennessee – if he won the primary - it was not shaping up to be a cakewalk of a campaign. There was a high probability that he would have faced a conservative primary challenger because of the base’s anger at the Senate for its utter failure to keep its promises to voters on Obamacare, border security and other major issues.
Corker was also particularly vulnerable because his name was attached like old chewing gum to the Corker Amendment, which may go down as one of the worst strategic blunders in Congressional history. It might have seemed clever at the time, but it ultimately gave away the Senate’s Constitutional power to declare Obama’s disastrous Iran nuclear deal a treaty requiring two-thirds approval. Instead, Obama was allowed to make the deal, and the Senate could only kill it afterwards with a two-thirds “no” vote, which was impossible when Democrats held nearly half the seats.
It is ironic that Obama is so proud of his Iran nuclear deal that he points to it as a major part of his legacy. Meanwhile, on the other side, just having your name tangentially connected to it is the electoral equivalent of cement shoes.
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