NASHVILLE — Former Tennessee Democratic Party chairman Bob Tuke is standing by fellow military veteran James Mackler, the announced Senate Democratic candidate who learned Wednesday he may come under siege in the Democratic primary from as many as four rivals, including Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.
A new Mackler campaign fund- raising appeal Thursday features Tuke, who served as a Marine in Vietnam, and ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in 2008.
Mackler, a Nashville attorney and decorated Iraq war veteran, announced five months ago he was running and reported having raised some $500,000 as of June 30.
Berke, a former Democratic state senator, is one of four Democrats taking a look at jumping in following Tuesday's announcement that U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would not seek re-election.
In the Mackler fundraising appeal, Tuke says "I'm writing to you because I believe there's something big missing in Washington today. Courage."
"It takes courage to do what is right for your country. It takes courage to step up when you recognize things need to change, especially when it might be hard. I have seen that courage in James Mackler."
He noted Mackler "stepped up after 9/11 to serve his country. He stepped up again to run for the U.S. Senate against Senator Bob Corker and his millions because James saw our country heading in the wrong direction and decided to do something about it.
"Now, with Senator Corker retiring, we have an opportunity to send a real leader to the U.S. Senate."
Besides Berke, state Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro of Nashville, state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, and Nashville businessman and millionaire Bill Freeman are weighing jumping into the Democrats' 2018 primary.