U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., today asked members of the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club today to join in to help elect him governor in 2010. Meanwhile, State Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, said Monday he is actively exploring a gubernatorial bid.

Rep. Wamp announced this morning that he will be running for Tennessee governor in 2010.

"I believe the time is at hand for me to expand my service to help even more people in our great state by pursuing the office of governor," he said in a written statement.

Rep. Wamp said he plans to travel his congressional district, Tennessee's 3rd, in the coming days, and to file paperwork to begin raising money for the gubernatorial race.

Sen. Berke, an attorney who was elected during a special election Nov. 17, 2007, and re-elected in November 2008, said he too is considering a run.

"I've been traveling around the state and everywhere the story is the same," Sen. Berke said. "Tennesseans are worried about their jobs, their kids' education and their ability to go see the doctor that they want. I'm looking for the best role for me to provide leadership and help to the people of our state in this tough time."

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., said today that he continues to weigh a gubernatorial bid, but the Pall Mall, Tenn., congressman, who recently won a plum assignment on the House Appropriations Committee, does not seem to be in any hurry about making a decision.

"Congressman Davis has expressed a strong interest to run for governor and his decision will be made in the coming months after carefully weighing how best to serve his district and the people of Tennessee," spokesman Tom Hayden said.

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, an expected candidate for governor, has already retained Jeremy Harrell, who served as U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander's 2008 campaign coordinator, to help "organize" a campaign, Mr. Harrell confirmed.

Mr. Haslam is expected on Tuesday to hold news conferences in Knoxville, Tri-Cities and on Rep. Wamp's own home turf in Chattanooga. Similar events are planned Wednesday in Nashville and West Tennessee, Mr. Harrell said.

"He's going to say at that time what his intentions are," Mr. Harrell said.

Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., recently announced that he would not seek the governor's seat. Gov. Phil Bredesen who is serving his second term in the office, cannot run again.

Rep. told members of the Pachyderm Club that his son, Weston Wamp, would be a part of his campaign. He said Corky Coker would help him with finance and that Ammon Smart would serve as his legal counsel.

Rep. Wamp will be sworn in to his eighth term in Congress this afternoon.

Below is Rep. Wamp's statement:

"One of the highest honors of my life has been to serve the very best people in the world - the citizens of Tennessee's Third District - in Congress for the last 14 years. I am grateful and humbled that you have again elected me to serve in Congress, and I will be sworn in tomorrow to serve you in the 111th Congress. I will continue to make my service to you my highest priority. Our country faces difficult challenges in the days ahead, and I will do my best to bring reasoned, conservative solutions to the problems we face.

"However, I believe the time is at hand for me to expand my service to help even more people in our great state by pursuing the office of Governor. While so much is good in Tennessee, I know in my heart we can continue to do better. From education, economic development, infrastructure and transportation to safer cities and healthier children, I will lead our state with vision, planning and implementation while setting goals and achieving results for a better Tennessee.

"In the next few days, I will travel the Third District to thank and hear from the people who have been so good to Kim, Weston, Coty and me over the years. I will also file the paperwork necessary to begin raising money as a candidate for Governor of the great State of Tennessee.

"Bolstered by a strong record of public service, a strong faith in God and the support of thousands of people like you who have stood with us through the years, I begin this extraordinary journey with a servant's heart and a commitment to the common sense values that makes Tennessee the state we all love. Please pray for us and spread the good word.

"Thank you so much."

See tomorrow's Times Free Press for full details.