Morning Digest: Bob Corker tries to brown-nose his way back into Trump's good graces

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

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TN-Sen: On Tuesday, GOP Sen. Bob Corker’s spokesperson directly acknowledged for the first time that he was thinking about seeking a third term after all. However, pretty much everyone (with the possible exception of Corker) agrees that Corker is in poor shape with primary voters, especially after he loudly and repeatedly criticized (but still reliably voted with) Trump last year. Friendly Senate Republicans tell Corker that, while they like the idea of him staying around, he’ll need to get Trump to endorse him if he wants any chance against Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the August primary. So, how’s that going? According to the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin, not so well.​

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​Corker has been trying to get back into Trump’s good graces for a while, but while they’re no longer insulting each other over Twitter, they’re still not exactly best pals. Trump reportedly offered encouragement to Blackburn just last week, though he hasn’t endorsed her. And White House aides are trying to make sure that Trump, who has been known to change his opinion of his enemies very quickly once the groveling starts, doesn’t lend Corker a helping hand. Martin writes that they’ve shown Trump polling showing Corker badly losing to Blackburn.

Corker has persisted, and he’s still trying to find ways to appeal to the man in the Oval Office. On Monday, he met with Ivanka Trump as part of what Martin calls his charm offensive. But White House advisors quickly scrambled to tell Ivanka Trump and her team about the senator’s motives.

And while Corker and his allies are arguing that Blackburn is so conservative that she could allow former Gov. Phil Bredesen to flip what should be a safe seat, not everyone is buying the electability argument. Plenty of party officials close to the establishment think Blackburn is a fine candidate, and that if Corker decided to run, he’d make it harder for them to beat Bredesen. They argue that Corker would just give Blackburn, who is the heavy favorite to win the GOP nod, a bloody primary that would only help the Democrat. Maybe Trump will enjoy all of Corker’s brown nosing enough to bequeath the man he once labeled as “Liddle Bob Corker” with his endorsement, but it seems very unlikely.

P.S.: It’s also worth noting that Corker is also in weaker financial shape that he was before he retired. As The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay notes, Corker refunded his donors almost $1 million before Dec. 31, leaving him with $6.2 million in the bank. That’s more than the $4.6 million Blackburn had at the end of the year, but it’s far from overwhelming.