Corker Defeats Ford in Tennessee Race

Corker, 54, replaces retiring fellow Republican, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

“Nothing in my life has honored me more than the fact that hundreds of thousands of my fellow Tennesseans went into the voting booth and put their trust in me,” Corker told a crowd of supporters at the Chattanoogan hotel early Wednesday, according to the Tennessee Chattanoogan.

“Tonight the campaign is over…And I am eager to start bringing people together to solve our country’s problems,” he added.

In a tough battle, Corker beat Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., despite what some analysts called one of the best run campaigns by Ford in this year’s election and a recent visit to Memphis on Ford’s behalf by former President Clinton.

Speaking at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis shortly after midnight on Tuesday, Ford said he hoped to learn from his loss.

“Moments like these you can either shrink from or you can grow from them,” Ford said, according to Nashville’s WTVF.

“I love my country more than I love this process,” he said.

During the Democratic primary in Tennessee, Corker’s opponents criticized him for wavering on abortion. Though he now says he opposes abortion, during a failed bid for the Senate against Frist in 1994 he said the issue should not be a government issue but a personal one, CNN reported.

Corker also said he opposes gay marriage and would like to see tougher laws on illegal immigration.

He raised $13 million during his campaign and managed to consistently stay ahead in the polls against his 36-year-old rival Ford.

The race got national and even international attention for its ferocity and because, had he won, Ford would have become only the sixth black U.S. senator and the first from Tennessee.

Corker heads a multi-million dollar real estate development company and has served as Tennessee’s commissioner of finance and administration.