NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As Bob Corker quietly decides about getting back into the Tennessee U.S. Senate race, his potential Republican Primary opponent is busy shoring up overwhelming support on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill.
Lt. Governor Randy McNally, who served with Marsha Blackburn in the Tennessee Senate, became the latest top state lawmaker to give his unqualified support to the Middle Tennessee congressional member in her bid for Corker’s seat.
McNally, who serves as Senate Speaker, urged everyone in his party to get behind Rep. Blackburn in a Wednesday morning Facebook post.
“Marsha Blackburn proved her leadership ability in the House,” wrote McNally. “It’s time to put that leadership to work in the United States Senate. I have been consistently impressed by Marsha’s dedication to fiscal conservatism. This dedication is needed now more than ever at the federal level. It is time for all Republicans to rally around Marsha Blackburn and place a strong fiscal conservative in the United States Senate.”
Blackburn campaign members count about 70 of 75 House Republicans in her fold and about two-thirds of the Republicans in the State Senate.
They also cite numerous polls, which show Blackburn with substantial leads over Corker in a Republican Primary.
Her campaign has staunchly denied word that Blackburn would get out if Corker decides to get back in after saying last year he would not seek a third term.
Corker has curtailed a normally busy public schedule this week as he mulls over the decision that many observers suspect he has already made.
“Why would Stephen Fincher get out if the senator was not going to get in,” said one top Republican. “And his $6 million of campaign money sitting there can overcome a lot of endorsements.”
Fincher, a former West Tennessee congressman, pulled out of the race earlier this month, urging Corker to run.
Watching from the distance of the opposing Democratic Party, the campaign for former Governor Phil Bredesen said he “got in this race to be a true representative for the people on Tennessee, not to run against anyone.”
A matchup between Corker and Bredesen would be an interesting one because the two are longtime personal friends dating back to the mid-90s when they worked together on the deal that brought the NFL’s Houston Oilers to Nashville.
Corker was finance commissioner in the administration of Republican Governor Don Sundquist and spearheaded the state’s $55 million part in the deal for the team that eventually became the Tennessee Titans.
Bredesen was then-mayor of Nashville who put together the overall nearly $300 million deal along with Oilers owner, Bud Adams.
Corker and Bredesen were close enough as friends to even attend a 1997 Rolling Stones concert at Vanderbilt Stadium together with their wives.