Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam elects to not seek U.S. Senate seat i - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam elects to not seek U.S. Senate seat in 2018

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam answers questions during an interview in Nashville. AP photo Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam answers questions during an interview in Nashville. AP photo
NASHVILLE, TN (WRCB) -

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he will not be running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by current U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.

Haslam issued a statement earlier that reads::

While Crissy and I will always be grateful for all of the encouragement and support to run for the United States Senate, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for Senate in 2018. The primary reason is that I want to remain completely focused on my job as governor. I know that being a candidate for the Senate during my last 15 months as governor would be a distraction from the task at hand. And, while I have loved being a mayor and a governor, I don’t feel the same call to run for Senate at this point. At the end of my term, I will have been in public office for 15 years.  I feel like I can be most helpful in my next service as a private citizen.

Haslam had been holding out hope that Corker, a close family friend, would run for a third term in the Senate, and didn't begin to seriously consider his own bid until he learned otherwise.

"While I have loved being a mayor and a governor, I don't feel the same call to run for Senate at this point," Haslam said. "At the end of my term, I will have been in public office for 15 years. I feel like I can be most helpful in my next service as a private citizen."

Haslam was first elected governor in 2010 and can't run again next year because of term limits. His vast personal wealth and popularity in the state would have given other Republicans contenders pause had he decided to run for Senate.

Other Republicans voicing an interest in running include U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, former Rep. Stephen Fincher and state Sen. Mark Green.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has also expressed interest.

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