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I think the main significance of Bob Corker’s retirement is that any Republican who is not completely cynical or completely mouthbreathing may find it not really worth it to stick around anymore. On the other hand, the idea that someone like Corker, who is a real wingnut, became an Officially Respected Senator is a sign of just how far right the Republican caucus has come. Remember that Corker defeated Harold Ford in 2006 by the Republicans openly racebaiting, and as horrible as Ford is, he’d surely be a lot better for the people of this nation than Corker was. Whether Corker really disapproved of that ad remains unknown. But it sure represented where the Republican Party was going.

I’d like to think that Democrats can win Bob Corker’s seat. Fifteen years ago, this might have still be possible. But Tennessee has become a hard right state. Much as if we are about to see if there is anyone in Alabama so extreme that they can’t beat a Democrat in a general election, we are going to see in Tennessee. If you had to put your money on the next senator from Tennessee, I would go with Martha Blackburn, who is a very special human being.

Cook moved the race from Safe Republican to Likely Republican. Given the very few real pickup opportunities for Democrats next year, this is certainly good news and anything can happen, but it would really take the right atmosphere and the right candidate. Given that the Democratic bench in Tennessee is not exactly deep, color me skeptical. Steve Cohen is awesome and comes from a very safe district, so maybe he will want to take a shot and run a very progressive candidacy and see what happens. More likely is that someone like former governor Phil Bredesen goes for it. Whether even a moderate with real electoral success can win in Tennessee anymore remains to be determined. In any case, much like in Alabama, Democrats need to challenge these Senate seats. There is no reason in this atmosphere to let any candidate just cruise into office.

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