State Senate Democratic nominee Andraé McGary today predicted his Republican opponent, Todd Gardenhire, “will campaign by putting forth lies” in the days before early voting begins Oct. 17.
Citing rumors from unnamed Republicans, the Chattanooga city councilman insinuated that Gardenhire would attempt to define him as a Democrat who supports a state income tax and takes government assistance.
He said he’s already heard of a “whisper campaign” that he sells drugs to finance his “nice suits.”
Gardenhire did not immediately respond to phone and text requests for comment today, but campaign spokesman Nick Collins issued a prepared statement.
“Focusing on real issues is the only activity Mr. Gardenhire is engaged in,” Collins said. “Attempts to drag this campaign in the mud will be unsuccessful.”
Gardenhire publicly has made only one of the statements — the income tax issue — but McGary criticized even the hypothetical accusations, calling them “blatant lies” during a proactive but sparsely attended news conference at Hamilton County Democratic Party headquarters in Chattanooga.
Gardenhire and McGary are campaigning for Senate District 10, which includes portions of Bradley and Hamilton counties. State Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, isn’t seeking re-election so he can run for Chattanooga mayor.
A former radio talk show host and married father of five, McGary claimed a longstanding opposition to the income tax and said he’s worked for his success, saying he never received “welfare” during his adult life.
Gardenhire won the Republican primary largely on the strength of attacks on his opponent Greg Vital, and McGary said he expects similar behavior in this race.
After Vital embellished his educational history, Gardenhire dubbed him “Pinocchio” and said he was behind a potentially damaging mail piece whose source never was verified.
For more information, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.