Bob Corker hosting fundraisers for U.S. Senate candidates

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 8/24/16. Senator Bob Corker speaks during the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting on Wednesday, August 24, 2016.
photo Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., talks on June 28 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

NASHVILLE - Fretting over the possibility of U.S. Senate Republicans losing their majority in Washington, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is kicking into high gear this month.

The Chattanooga senator is sponsoring two political fundraisers for embattled out-of-state incumbents.

Corker plans to host an event for Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., on Sept. 23 at his Chattanooga home, according to an email sent to potential donors by the Tennessee lawmaker's fundraiser, Kim Kaegi.

And Corker has enlisted Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to allow another fundraiser to take place on Sept. 26 at the governor's mansion here in Nashville.

Holding political fundraisers in the governor's mansion is legal under Tennessee law. Both Republican and Democratic governors have long allowed or sponsored such events.

Tickets for "hosts" at each of the noon-time luncheon events are $2,700, while participants pay $1,000 per ticket. The price tag is $5,400 for couples.

"As we enter the last 67 days before the November election," Kaegi's email says, "the importance of maintaining a Senate Majority has become a central focus. Senator Corker has committed to hosting two colleagues later this month in TN: Kelly Ayotte at his home in Chattanooga and Marco Rubio at the Executive Residence in Nashville.

"Whether or not you can attend in person, we hope you will consider participating with a financial gift," Kaegi's note continues. "Attendance starting at $1,000. The individual giving limit for each is $2,700 per person/$5,400 per couple. Any amount is welcome. Please send checks made payable to each candidate to me at the address below, and we will forward to the campaigns with a note from Senator Corker. Thank you and have a great Labor Day Weekend. – Kim."

Kaegi also says others "to consider supporting" include U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., with a "Nashville event date pending," as well as Republican Joe Heck, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Kaegi is the go-to fundraiser for top Tennessee Republican officeholders with a roster of clients including Corker, Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Getting engaged in fundraising for GOP colleagues makes sense for Corker, whose tenure as Senate Foreign Relations chairman rises or falls on Republicans maintaining their majority.

Ayotte faces a tough challenge in November from New Hampshire Democrat and Gov. Maggie Hassan. The latest Real Clear Politics poll average shows Hassan slightly ahead by .08 percentage points.

Rubio, who belly-flopped in this year's GOP presidential primaries and was urged by colleagues to run again for his Senate seat, won this week's Florida Senate Republican primary. He faces U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., who won his primary, as well.

Real Clear Politics' latest poll average shows Rubio ahead of Murphy by 5.7 percentage points, but the incumbent has not broken the 50 percent support mark.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at 615-255-0550 or