Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey stumps for Todd Gardenhire

photo Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey
photo Todd Gardenhire
Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey headlined a Chattanooga fundraiser Monday for state Senate Republican nominee Todd Gardenhire.

In return for a $250 suggested donation, several Republican elected officials and a few dozen supporters heard speeches, rubbed elbows and enjoyed a multicourse meal at the downtown Mountain City Club.

The Gardenhire campaign didn't fill up the dozen or so tables it reserved, but a staffer said the lunchtime meeting likely exceeded a goal of $10,000.

The fundraiser and public show of Republican unity stands in contrast to the situation Gardenhire's 10th Senate District opponent finds himself battling.

Democratic nominee and Chattanooga City Councilman Andraé McGary in a Sunday Times Free Press story lamented the fact that the seat's sitting Democrat, Sen. Andy Berke, won't endorse him. Berke is running for mayor and avoiding partisan endorsements that allies say could endanger his own fundraising efforts for the nonpartisan March city elections.

Asked if McGary's endorsement issues helps Gardenhire, Ramsey grinned.

"Can't hurt anything," he said.

Tennessee Senate Democratic Party spokesman Matt Anderson said top legislators are supporting McGary, but he isn't aware of any upcoming fundraisers.

McGary confirmed that when describing the help he's getting from Nashville.

"Assistance with messaging and strategy only," he said. "No fundraisers."

GOP officials controlled the redistricting process this year and left their mark on the 10th Senate District, eliminating historically liberal Marion County and adding conservative parts of Bradley and Hamilton counties.

Among those at Mountain City Club on Monday were Senate Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson; Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga; Erlanger Health System trustee Russell King; and Hamilton County Commissioners Jim Fields, Marty Haynes and Larry Henry, all Republicans.

The candidates' campaign finance disclosures covering July, August and September become public this week.

Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at or 423-757-6610.