MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee's political world has been turned upside down thanks to the dramatic, but not all that surprising announcement from Senator Bob Corker that he will not seek a third term.
The decision in many ways is a huge relief for Corker who has become more and more dissatisfied with the gridlock in Washington and what he has called the dysfunction in the Trump White House. Now, Corker can devote the next 15 months to governing without the stress of a reelection campaign.
But another story line floating around Tennessee is that Corker would have faced a spirited challenge in next year's Republican primary. The fact is, GOP primary voters are far more conservative than Corker has proven to be in office, and some were starting to believe that despite having plenty of campaign cash he was in real danger of losing.
Now, the attention turns to possible successors. Seventh District Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn would be a formidable candidate should she choose run. Blackburn would likely get the backing of President Trump, who remains very popular among Tennessee Republicans.
There is also talk that former football star Peyton Manning is considering a run which would be interesting simply because of the current collision between sports and politics.
Whoever it may be, they will be filling some big shoes. Corker has served Tennessee well and his retirement will be a big loss at a time when real leadership is needed the most.