By hgold@politico.com (Hadas Gold)

Fox News anchor Eric Bolling may have just signed a new multi-year contract, but he’s also eyeing a possible career change: A future run for Senate.

For now, Bolling is secure in his job as co-host of the new show “The Fox News Specialists.” But In a recent telephone interview from Fox News headquarters in New York City, Bolling said that “when the lights go down on the TV career” he wants to make a primary challenge against a sitting Republican senator in the South.

“A lot of Republicans run as conservatives only to be elected, and we find out they’re not conservative at all,” said Bolling, who considers himself one of President Donald Trump’s longest and most loyal supporters.

Bolling, who grew up in Chicago and went to college in Florida, declined to specify which state in the South he’d run, which senator he would challenge or even when it would happen (it could be “never” or when his current contract runs out in three years, he said). He also denied he’s taking any concrete actions to run, including speaking with consultants – “no, no, friends” he said when asked if he’s had conversations about planning a campaign. But shortly after discussing his possible future in politics, Bolling began expanding on his “Wake Up America” monologues, sounding every bit the politician.

“They’re really right wing, hardcore conservative commentaries and I think this is what my brand personally is all about, but this is an opportunity to get that voice out there stronger,” said Bolling, who also has a new book out called “The Swamp: Washington’s Murky Pool of Corruption and Cronyism and How Trump Can Drain It.”

“It’s a strong, common-sense conservative voice that I think we need to continue going forward. I think it’s important for Republicans and conservatives to have a strong right wing conservative common sense voice highlighted and [Fox is] giving me that opportunity, to their credit, and I’m thankful for that.”

The 54-year-old Bolling, who was a commodities trader and CNBC analyst before joining Fox 10 years ago, describes himself as a Fox loyalist. When Fox News first announced its new lineup on April 19 in the wake of Bill O’Reilly’s departure amid sexual harassment allegations and advertiser boycotts, Bolling was declared in a press release as the sole host of the 5 p.m. hour. During Bolling’s farewell from his former show, “The Five,” then co-host Bob Beckel congratulated Bolling on getting his “own show, which you’ve wanted and you deserve it.”

One week later Fox announced the show as an ensemble, named “The Fox News Specialists,” with Bolling flanked every day by two female co-hosts: Eboni Williams and Katherine Timpf.

A Fox News spokesperson said that despite the original announcement, nothing had changed in the interim.

“The plan for the 5 p.m. hour was for it to always be an ensemble program,” the spokesperson said.

Bolling brushed off questions about what may have changed, citing the upheaval at the network as it quickly re-worked its shows in the wake of O’Reilly’s departure.

“Remember there was a lot going on at the time the company decided to part ways with Bill O’Reilly,” Bolling said. “That same day they decided to put ‘The Five’ at 9 p.m., to move Tucker Carlson to 8 p.m. and I was asked to stay at 5 p.m. and develop the audience.”

“I didn’t really know what that meant at the time — I thought I was still on “The Five” at one point — but I realized it was to stay at 5 p.m., develop a show and make it strong and watchable,” he added. “I’ve been here ten years … I’ve benn nothing but loyal and have been rewarded by it. For me, it has a bigger footprint on a personal level than I’ve had here at Fox before.”

“The Fox News Specialists” features Williams, Bolling and Timpf joined every day by two “specialists” — everything from political strategists to CEOs — to discuss news of the day and debate one another.

The show has held on to the time slot’s ratings for the network, averaging 1.873 million total viewers and 341,000 viewers in the 25 to 54-year-old key advertising demographic for the month of May. For the same month last year, “The Five” (then in the 5 p.m. time slot) averaged 1.898 million viewers and a lower demographic rating of 290,000 viewers.

“It feels like the tide is turning. It’s a stronger show six weeks in than probably most people expected us to be,” Bolling noted, adding that he’s been “pleasantly surprised” by the news.

Bolling’s position is decidedly pro-Trump. He called himself one of the few people there for Trump “from day one.” Timpf, who also writes for National Review, and Williams, a lawyer by training, often present differing viewpoints on the show, though they don’t fall neatly into the categories of liberal or conservative.

Though he’s one of Trump’s most loyal defenders and was in discussions for a possible administration job during the transition, Bolling said there are some areas he’s not completely pleased with the administration’s performance.

“I don’t go anywhere near an import fee for products, I’m against that. I’m not in favor of getting involved in the Middle Eastern wars unless our allies or troops are getting threatened, and there are places where we’re getting involved like Syria that I don’t think we should,” said Bolling, who has spoken with the president “four or five times” since the inauguration.

He added, “I don’t love the healthcare plan they’re putting together but I like the fact he’s using the healthcare savings and applying it to tax reform.”

Otherwise, though, Bolling said he thinks the administration’s track record is “phenomenal,” pointing to the stock market, low unemployment rate, housing prices and consumer confidence.

“The left, the mainstream media, everyone but the ‘fair and balanced network,’ say Russia is the biggest story here,” Bolling said, using Fox News’ now-retired slogan. “But guess what? The economy is the biggest story right …read more

Read more here: Fox’s Bolling talks of a future Senate run

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