published Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Tennessee State Sen. Andy Berke has $100,000 in his war chest

Senator Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga) speaks at a town hall meeting in Chattanooga, Tenn., in this file photo.
Senator Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga) speaks at a town hall meeting in Chattanooga, Tenn., in this file photo.
Photo by Jenna Walker.


Campaign finance reports for state Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, and Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge.

Berke: $105,517 raised, $126,069.45 cash on hand

Dean: $21,262.50 raised, $36,569.54 cash on hand

Source: Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance

NASHVILLE — State Sen. Andy Berke raised a little more than $100,000 in campaign contributions last year that he can use to run for re-election to the 10th District seat or possibly shift to a 2013 race for Chattanooga mayor.

On Tuesday, Berke, a Chattanooga Democrat, reported to the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance that he raised $105,517 between July 1, 2011, and Jan. 15. His campaign cash on hand is $126,069.45, records show.

Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, reported raising $21,262.50. Dean has said he is considering running against Berke for the Senate. Redistricting made the district more Republican, adding areas such as East Ridge and a large slice of Bradley County.

Dean has a $36,569.54 cash balance, according to his finance report. Senate Republicans are expected to help him should he decide to run.

Berke said he still is deciding between the Senate and a mayoral bid.

"I've been talking to local citizens about the future of our area. There's certainly a desire to see leadership for our future as we face the next several years," he said.

"I think people are hungering for practical leadership that offers solutions on jobs and education," Berke said. He noted that 340 individuals and about 20 political action committees gave to his campaign in a nonelection year.

Berke said he doubts state law would let him turn money from his Senate campaign account over to a mayoral campaign.

But Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said Berke could do just that, depending on timing and circumstances.

He said Berke can use "excess" money left over from his 2008 race immediately or after 2012 elections if any "excess" money he raised in 2011 or 2012 remains.

"The money he's raised for 2012 is not excess until the 2012 election is over," Rawlins said. "If he doesn't spend it in that election [by not running for Senate] it becomes excess and he could transfer it."

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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