NASHVILLE - Tennessee House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick says running against incumbent Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke was the furthest thing from his mind when he announced last week he would not seek a fourth two-year term as the House's second most powerful official.
But the Chattanooga Republican said he's gotten an earful on the topic from people ever since.
"That was definitely not on my mind," McCormick said Tuesday of the idea of running for mayor. "It's been surprising the number of people who've called me."
Berke, a Democrat and former state senator, recently announced he is running for a second four-year mayoral term in the city's March 7 election. City Councilman Larry Grohn last month announced he is challenging Berke for the non-partian position.
McCormick, 54, told the Times Free Press last week he would not seek reelection as leader in the 73-member House Republican Caucus, saying it was time someone else took the post and the real estate developer emphasizing that he was interested in devoting more time to his business interests. He is running again for his House seat and is unopposed in the Nov. 8 election.
The lawmaker, who noted he personally likes Berke, said "I've had people I respect very much" raise the issue in the days since about running for mayor. "I do not have any plans to run for mayor and if I had to give a quick answer the answer would be no."
But, McCormick said, "I don't want to close out the door completely."
Berke, 48, has been embroiled in controversy after a domestic incident involving adviser Lacie Stone and her husband, Bobby. Bobby Stone has alleged his wife was having an affair with Berke. The mayor has denied the claim.
McCormick is a principal in the commercial real estate firm of Stone Fort Properties. He recently became a director with the investment banking firm of Decosimo Corporate Finance. In addition to overseeing Chattanooga-based Stone Fort, McCormick is assisting Decosimo in sourcing and executing sell-side advisory engagements and debt and equity raises.