Corker doesn’t answer question about endorsing Blackburn for his seat

Sen. Bob Corker, after announcing his decision to not seek re-election in Tennessee this year, is staying silent on whether he’ll endorse fellow Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn for his seat.

While he was boarding an elevator to attend the Senate GOP lunch Tuesday, a reporter from NBC asked twice whether he’d endorse Blackburn. He looked forward and did not answer the question while the elevator doors closed.

“The senator does not typically get involved in primaries but has always planned to support the nominee,” a Corker aide said about the senator’s silence.

Corker’s chief of staff announced Tuesday that the Tennessee Republican had decided he would not run for re-election after reconsidering his decision to retire last year. His decision puts an end to months of speculation that he might reverse his decision to retire.

“Over the past several months, Senator Corker has been encouraged by people across Tennessee and in the Senate to reconsider his decision not to seek re-election,” his chief of staff Todd Womack said in a statement. “However, at the end of the day, the senator believes he made the right decision in September and will be leaving the Senate when his term expires at the end of 2018.”

Blackburn, who announced she is running for his seat, thanked Corker for his “dedicated service” in the Senate in a statement Tuesday.

“I want to thank Senator Corker for his dedicated service on behalf of Tennessee families,” Blackburn said. “Now, we can unify the Republican party and focus on defeating Democrat Phil Bredesen in November.”