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April 10, 2009

Corker's stock continues to rise

Sen. Bob Corker ranked just 26th in a recent ranking of Tennessee’s most powerful people — he’s one slot ahead of the UT women’s hoops coach but outranked by Dolly Parton. But on the national landscape, he’s attracting increasing notice as a prospective GOP presidential candidate.

The cable networks are on to him because of his prominent role in the auto industry bailout debate; CNN’s Peter Hamby noticed he’s headlining the South Carolina Republican Party’s annual Silver Elephant Banquet in May.

And news about Corker is also beginning to show up regularly on the website GOP12, which tracks everything about possible 2012 Republican presidential candidates.

According to Corker chief of staff Todd Womack, none of it is by the senator’s design.

“Because of his background and the tough economic conditions the country’s facing, 100 percent of Sen. Corker’s efforts are focused on being as effective as he can be in the Senate,” he said.”While some of that talk may be flattering, it’s not our focus.”

Womack explained that Corker was born in South Carolina, lived in Aiken as a child and continues to have family connections there.

Still, it’s worth noting that Tennessee has produced a handful of presidential candidates over the past decade — Al Gore, Lamar Alexander, Bill Frist, Fred Thompson.

While Corker is still a Senate first-termer, so was Barack Obama. Corker is wealthy, has a decent narrative from his days as Chattanooga mayor and won his seat in 2006 by defeating Congressman Harold Ford, a top-tier African-American opponent.