'Fried chicken' comment explained, denounced in Chattanooga area state Senate contest

Times Free Press file photos / Todd Gardenhire, left, and Glenn Scruggs are shown in this composite photo.
photo Times Free Press file photos / Todd Gardenhire, left, and Glenn Scruggs are shown in this composite photo.

NASHVILLE - An unforced error by Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire regarding "fried chicken," obesity and a lack of healthy food availability in East Chattanooga has brought drama and national attention to the white lawmaker's Nov. 3 Senate District 10 contest against Democratic challenger Glenn Scruggs, a Black assistant police chief in Chattanooga.

The district, comprising parts of Hamilton County including the city of Chattanooga and a portion of Bradley County, has been viewed by Democrats as a rare opportunity to pick up a seat in the state Senate, where Republicans hold a 28-5 supermajority.

While Republicans disagree with Democrats' assessment, citing the large number of white Republican voters in the Bradley portion of the district, the ensuing flap nonetheless left some wincing given that 30% of the district's residents are African American.

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