Khristy Wilkinson is Democratic choice to face Todd Gardenhire for state Senate seat

Khristy Wilkinson

Vote totals

Republican primary: Todd Gardenhire - 6,057UnopposedDemocratic primary: Khristy Wilkinson - 2,662Nick Wilkinson - 2,111 Ty O'Grady - 1,335All vote totals are unofficial until certified by the Election Commission; some vote totals include write-in votes

photo Todd Gardenhire

Democratic voters Thursday chose neighborhood activist Khristy Wilkinson as their nominee for the District 10 state Senate seat. She will face incumbent Republican Todd Gardenhire in November.

Wilkinson, who is the vice president of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association and an adjunct professor at UTC, had 43.5 percent of the vote, compared to 35 percent for Nick Wilkinson, the city of Chattanooga's deputy director for economic development. The Wilkinsons are not related.

Entrepreneur Ty O'Grady was in third place with 22 percent.

Both Khristy Wilkinson and Nick Wilkinson campaigned on expanding health care in Tennessee. The incumbent, Gardenhire, was one of a handful of state senators who successfully blocked a vote by the full Senate on Gov. Bill Haslam's proposed legislation to expand Medicaid.

But Khristy Wilkinson, who has never run for public office before, also emphasized her community ties and experience as a volunteer in the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Nick Wilkinson raised vastly more money than his opponents. He raised $79,455 since he began running in March, filings from the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance show. He spent $24,157 in the pre-primary period and $27,521 so far all told. Khristy Wilkinson raised $2,835 since entering the race. O'Grady's disclosures show he raised and spent nothing.

"I haven't really processed it yet," Khristy Wilkinson said in an interview Thursday evening. "I'm also very humbled, to be perfectly honest. We spent a fraction of what Nick's campaign raised and spent."

District 10 is an odd-shaped district that includes all of downtown Chattanooga from the Georgia line up to Red Bank, but then stretches east through East Ridge and East Brainerd before hooking north through Bradley County to Ocoee and curving north around, but not including, Cleveland.

Gardenhire was first elected in 2012, filling a seat left vacant when former state Sen. Andy Berke campaigned for and was elected mayor of Chattanooga. Gardenhire had no primary opposition this election.

The mayor supported Nick Wilkinson. Berke's Three Star PAC contributed $8,500 to Nick Wilkinson's campaign.

Republicans now have an overwhelming 28-5 majority in the Senate.

Contact staff writer Steve Johnson at 423-757-6673,, on Twitter @stevejohnsonTFP, or on Facebook, www.facebook/com/noogahealth.

Hamilton County general and Tennessee primary election stories