NASHVILLE — Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is asking his supporters to back fellow Democrat Phil Bredesen as the former governor and Nashville mayor runs for U.S. Senate.
A former state senator who served in the General Assembly, Berke had himself openly considered seeking the seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Chattanooga. But when Bredesen announced he would run earlier this month, Berke quickly applauded the decision in a statement on Twitter.
Now, the mayor's following up with emails to supporters.
"Phil's life and work have been about finding lasting solutions to big problems," Berke wrote. "Leadership in our nation's capital has been in short supply over the last year, and meanwhile the stakes are getting higher and higher.
"That's why I'm proud to support Phil Bredesen for the United States Senate, and I hope you'll join me."
Berke noted that when Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, made his surprise announcement on Sept. 26 not to seek a third term in 2018, "I considered entering the race for the nomination. I believe that I can offer some fresh thinking and practical ideas that would be useful in the Senate."
But Berke said that "having only recently won re-election as Chattanooga's Mayor ... I've still got a long list of things I'd like to accomplish here at home and want to do everything I can to continue our momentum.
"That's why I'm supporting a candidate to represent us in the United States Senate that not only has the thoughtful, common sense approach we need right now — he's got a successful track record of running and winning in every county of our state: Phil Bredesen," Berke said.
Bredesen has been the only Democrat to win a statewide election by an outright majority since 1990. He was first elected governor in 2002 in a tight general election, then coasted to a second term in 2006.
Democrats lost both of Tennessee's U.S. Senate seats in 1994 to Republicans. Corker won it in 2006 in the tightest contest since.
Bredesen faces Nashville attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler in next year's Aug. 2Democratic primary. Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher from Frog Jump in rural West Tennessee are seeking the GOP nomination.
The entry of Bredesen, a self-made millionaire who has carved out a political career as a pro-business moderate, has drawn national attention to the contest.
Nashville Bureau Staff Writer Andy Sher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.