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Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) during a hearing on the Hill. Photo: Pete Marovich / Getty Images

With buzz that Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) may seek reelection after all, several sources from the GOP grassroots tell Axios he should keep his retirement plans:

"Our supporters do not want to see Corker get back in this race. They think Corker is out of touch with what people in Tennessee want.
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots

Why it matters: Corker has backed off his attacks on President Trump, but conservatives haven't forgotten. One GOP strategist told Axios that running would "not only be a risky move with Tennessee voters, but also a risky move with the conservative movement."

The backdrop: News that Corker may choose to run for reelection began after several GOP leaders voiced concerns about losing the seat to a Democrat, prompting Corker's spokeswoman to tell Politico that he's "listening" to those concerns.

  • If he does choose to run, he'll be up against Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the primary, with former Gov. Phil Bredesen likely to represent the Democrats in the general.

What they're saying:

  • "Marsha is much more of a fighter than Corker, and she’s not as tentative about shaking the status quo — [our supporters] appreciate that," Jenny Beth Martin added.
  • "No grassroots folks would be enthusiastic about it … Just upon hearing that Corker was thinking about retirement, our folks gave $25k more to Marsha’s campaign," Ken Cuccinelli, former Attorney General of Virginia and President of the Senate Conservatives Fund, told Axios. "As for Trump, talk about burning a bridge! The president's base isn’t going to forget that ... and it not like he’s been so good on other things."
  • "The conservative movement across all aspects are aligned and united behind Blackburn," a source close to the conservative movement told Axios.
  • Other sources pointed to polls — conducted largely by conservative organizations including Club for Growth, WPA Intelligence, and the Senate Conservatives Fund — that show Rep. Blackburn ahead of Corker in a hypothetical match-up.

The other side:

  • “Sen. Corker and President Trump have a good relationship and talk periodically about a number of issues," a source familiar told Axios. "The senator continues to attend meetings at the White House, as he has throughout the president’s time in office.”
  • The source also pointed to an internal poll, conducted in late January by Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Politico, that shows Bredesen narrowly edging out Blackburn 47 to 45.

Go deeper

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.