Senator Bob Corker weighs whether to retire in 2018

Senator Bob Corker/ CNN

WASHINGTON — Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the influential chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee who was once considered for a spot in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, is weighing whether to call it quits next year.

Corker told CNN last week that he has not made a decision about his future, and appeared to confirm President Trump’s tweet that he asked the President for political advice about whether to run for reelection.

“As far as what am I going to do in the future, I’m still contemplating the future,” Corker said in an interview. “It’s a tremendous privilege to do what I do, and to weigh in on the big issues. … But I have not decided what I’m going to do in the future.”

If Corker, 65, were to retire, it’d be a huge surprise in the Senate given his perch sitting atop a powerful committee, his alliance with the Senate leadership and the fact that he’s only in his second term. Plus it would give Democrats a new shot to pick up another Senate seat, although it still would be an uphill climb given that the state is still a solid GOP stronghold.

A source familiar with Corker’s thinking said the Republican is legitimately torn about whether to remain in the body another six years or to return to his roots in the business sector.

But the source said Corker is taking steps to prepare for a run, raising money for a bid with more than $7 million in cash on hand. Plus, he’s hired a seasoned political operative as a general consultant, Ward Baker, who led the GOP’s Senate campaign committee in the party’s successful 2016 election cycle.

Still, it’s unclear to people close to Corker whether he will run or call it quits — or when he will make a final decision. And, the source said, the senator has spoken to many people about his deliberations, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is urging him to run again.