Sen. Bob Corker decides against re-election bid

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This Oct. 6, 2011 file photo shows Senator Bob Corker during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP Photo/ J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee decided he will not run for re-election after reconsidering his decision to retire last year, his chief of staff told reporters Tuesday.

His decision puts an end to months of speculation that he might reverse his decision to retire.

Corker had conversations with a few colleagues earlier this month about whether he should reconsider his decision to not seek re-election this year, GOP sources told CNN.

Corker’s decision sets up a likely general election between GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn Blackburn and former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a 74-year-old Democrat who has won twice statewide before but last ran for office in 2006.

Former Rep. Stephen Fincher had also entered the Republican primary, but dropped out last week, encouraging Corker to run.

News the Corker would stand by his decision to not seek re-election was first reported by Politico on Tuesday.

Shortly after the announcement Tuesday, leading GOP candidate Marsha Blackburn released a statement saying, “I want to thank Senator Corker for his dedicated service on behalf of Tennessee families. Now, we can unify the Republican party and focus on defeating Democrat Phil Bredesen in November.”

“I’m looking forward to listening to Tennesseans families and sharing my ideas on how we can get the United States Senate back to work and pass President Trump’s agenda.”

Bredesen’s campaign also released a similar statement.

“Governor Bredesen is glad to see the race taking shape and he remains focused on running a 95-county campaign to win in November. The contrast between candidates is now clear. Tennessee voters can pick someone who caused gridlock in Washington over the past 15 years — or they can hire someone who has a proven track record of working across the aisle to get things done for all Tennesseans.”