NASHVILLE - Conservative activist Andy Ogles announced Wednesday he is ending his campaign for the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate nomination.
"I entered this race to insure [sic] that Tennessee would have conservative representation that would reflect [its] values and commitment to 'draining the swamp' that Tennesseans expect and deserve," Ogles said in a statement. "With Senator [Bob] Corker making the decision to exit the Senate at the conclusion of his term rather than being terminated by the voters, the political landscape changed dramatically."
Corker, R-Tenn., announced in September he would not seek a third term to the Senate seat the former Chattanooga mayor first won in 2006.
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., immediately jumped into the race and former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, a West Tennessee Republican, soon followed, putting the campaign of Ogles - former director of the Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers - in limbo.
"With two Republican candidates for the nomination, who have millions of dollars in their Congressional accounts or personal wealth at their disposal, I do not see a path to raise the millions of dollars needed to run a successful race this election cycle," Ogles acknowledged.
He added that like "millions of Tennesseans, I will be watching and listening carefully to what the Republican candidates say and do before I choose who to support."
On the Democratic side, Nashville attorney James Mackler is running for the open Senate seat. But all political eyes are on the prospect of former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen jumping in. Before that, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke had been weighing a bid.
When Ogles announced, his campaign issued a release saying that an independent expenditure group run by Nashville businessman Lee Beaman intended to raise $5 million to support his challenge to Corker. Since then, Fincher has announced his candidacy.
Before Corker's withdrawal, Ogles had repeatedly lambasted the senator. Today, he aimed several more shots at the senator, who now has turned into one of President Donald Trump's most vocal GOP critics.
"With each passing day, Senator Corker has underlined why Tennessee voters were prepared to fire him," Ogles said. "As others hesitated, I was willing to accept the challenge and believed that once his vulnerabilities could be exposed voters would give him a pink slip. He clearly believed the same thing."
Ogles accused Corker of having "shown more passion attacking our President the past eleven months than he expressed in criticizing President Barack Obama during his entire 8 years in the White House.
"Thanks to Senators like Bob Corker, we have failed to secure our borders, still haven't repealed and replaced Obamacare and are struggling to develop a plan to cut taxes - despite the best efforts of President Trump and Republican majorities in both houses," Ogles added. "Sadly he would rather fight with the President than fight for us."
Corker voted in support of repealing the federal Affordable Care Act. But the bill still lacked enough votes from Republican senators to pass.
Contact staff writer Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.