Tennessee Democrats seek gains in state legislative contests, but Republicans say they're ready

FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2017 file photo, a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest is displayed in the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee lawmakers on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, remained torn on whether to support a proposal the removal of a contentious bust of a former Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. If approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature, the measure encourages the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest be removed from the Tennessee Capitol and instead be replaced with an “appropriate tribute to a deserving Tennessean.” (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE - In a state where their party is a "super minority" in Tennessee's Republican-dominated Senate and House, Democrats hope to make inroads in the November election in changing urban and suburban-based districts, including a Chattanooga-based Senate seat.

Speaking last month to Tennessee delegates to the National Democratic Convention, state Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Raumesh Akbari, a Memphis Democrat, said that despite Republicans having "gerrymandered the hell out of us" during 2012 redistricting, Democrats have a good chance of flipping several seats.

"We can take out Sen. Gardenhire in Chattanooga," she said of Todd Gardenhire, a Republican seeking his third term in Senate District 10, which includes portions of Hamilton and Bradley counties.

Akbari praised Gardenhire's Democratic opponent, Glenn Scruggs, a Chattanooga assistant police chief who is Black, as a strong candidate for the district that includes areas with large numbers of Black voters, suburban voters and rural areas.

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