Andy Berke's chief of staff expected to be confirmed as federal judge later today

Andy Berke, left, listens during a news conference as Travis McDonough speaks in this file photo.
Andy Berke, left, listens during a news conference as Travis McDonough speaks in this file photo.

Travis McDonough, the chief of staff for Mayor Andy Berke, learns later today whether he will become the next U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

McDonough, an attorney who worked in the Miller & Martin law firm from 2005 to 2013, was tapped in November 2014 to replace Judge Curtis Collier, who took senior status.

The Senate will decide whether to confirm or deny his appointment at 5:30 p.m. following a half hour of consideration. McDonough, who beat out at least four hopefuls for the nomination, is expected to be confirmed.

In June, McDonough appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington D.C., where he and Middle District nominee Waverly D. Crenshaw were showered with praise.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a former Chattanooga mayor who is expected to speak today before the vote, championed McDonough's humble demeanor.

photo Travis McDonough

"Travis is one of those people who you just love to see something like that happen to," Corker said in June of the nomination.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., also vouched for both nominees.

"They're men of good character, they're men of good temperament. I encourage the committee to support their nomination," Alexander said.

A year after the nomination, McDonough used all of his accrued personal time off and began taking unpaid leave on Oct. 2, according to Berke's office. About one month later, Berke appointed former campaign manager Stacy Richardson to chief of staff, making her the first female in Chattanooga to hold such a post.

According to Berke's office, Richardson earns $110,000 annually - a smaller figure than McDonough's $128,000 because she has less experience to date. Since August 21, she had been fulfilling McDonough's job duties as interim chief of staff.

Berke's office has yet to comment on today's expected confirmation.

McDonough, who served as head of his firm's litigation department from 2012 to 2013, received his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School and his undergraduate degree in 1994 from Sewanee: The University of the South.

As Berke's chief of staff, McDonough headed a city liability task force that slashed some employee benefits, leading retired police and firefighters to sue in federal courts over the issue. In a big win for the city, Judge Collier dismissed the lawsuit Nov. 24.