Sen. Bob Corker appears positioned to coast to re-election next year, though some Democrats are at least raising the possibility of an opponent, according to Michael Collins.
Some snippets from his story:
In the first three months of this year alone he raised $1.9 million. The inflow of new cash means Corker already has $2.9 million in his campaign account. Another fundraiser is planned for this Friday in Knoxville.
…(Chief of Staff Todd) Womack said Corker’s strong fundraising is “a vote of confidence” from people across Tennessee who have “recognized and appreciated the work Sen. Corker is doing to solve complex problems that our country faces.”–
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee recently listed six seats it will be targeting in 2012, but Corker’s wasn’t among them. That doesn’t mean Democrats are writing off Tennessee, said the committee’s spokesman, Matt Canter.
“These are six states that we’ve identified and expect to have campaigns up and running in the near term, but that is not to say there won’t be investments in other Republican-held seats, like in Tennessee,” Canter said. “We absolutely intend to support a competitive Democratic campaign in Tennessee.”
There’s a lot of interest in the race among Tennessee Democrats because people believe Corker is vulnerable, said Brandon Puttbrese, a spokesman for the Tennessee Democratic Party.
“We believe we’re going to have a real good candidate when all is said and done,” Puttbrese said. But, “we haven’t had any Democrats come to the forefront 100 percent that they are in, that they want to do it.
Bob Tuke, the former Tennessee Democratic Party chairman who lost a race against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in 2008, said he’s not interested in running against Corker and doesn’t know of anyone who is.
“I think everybody, frankly, is waiting to see if there’s some kind of movement back toward the Democrats,” said Tuke, adding that leaders are trying to re-energize the party. “I think it’s going to take some of that in order to get someone willing to put their hat in the ring.”
…Leaders in the tea party movement have been upset with Corker for supporting the 2008 bank bailout and have threatened to run someone against him. But, “right now, we don’t have anyone in mind,” said Tami Kilmarx, president of the Tennessee Tea Party. “No real viable candidate has stepped forward, to my knowledge, who would be a viable replacement for Bob Corker.”
…While no tea party-backed candidate has come forward, Corker has drawn one GOP opponent. James Durkan, a little-known manufacturing manager from Chattanooga, has filed to run against him in the primary.