Travis McDonough, the previous chief of staff for Mayor Andy Berke, was confirmed Monday as the next U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
The U.S. Senate, which opened discussion around 5 p.m., voted 89-0 in favor of McDonough's nomination after roughly one hour.
"I have known Travis McDonough personally for years and am confident he will serve the people of Tennessee honorably in this new role," Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said Monday afternoon, urging his colleagues from the floor to vote for McDonough.
The former Chattanooga mayor said McDonough assured him in several conversations throughout the confirmation process he would be a fair and independent judge. Corker also praised McDonough when the Chattanooga lawyer appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, saying of the nomination: "Travis is one of those people who you just love to see something like that happen to."
An attorney who worked in the Miller & Martin law firm from 2005-2013, McDonough was tapped in November 2014 to replace Judge Curtis Collier, who took senior status.
McDonough served as Berke's chief of staff upon inauguration in August 2013 and began a leave of absence on Oct. 2, at which time former campaign manager Stacy Richardson assumed his former duties. She was ultimately appointed chief of staff in early November.
"Travis has a keen legal mind and an unparalleled commitment to fairness," Berke said of the confirmation in a statement Monday. "He understand true justice means everyone has an equal opportunity in both the courtroom and throughout the community."
Berke and Corker were not alone in their praise Monday.
"He's a well-qualified man," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said on the Senate floor. "We're fortunate that he's willing to serve, and we're fortunate the president has nominated him. I urge my colleagues to vote for him."
Alexander, who noted McDonough's numerous qualifications as an attorney and city employee, also vouched for McDonough when he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June with Middle District nominee Waverly D. Crenshaw.
Since that time, many predicted that McDonough's confirmation was almost to be expected.
"I think the Senate will easily confirm Travis McDonough because he is a well-qualified, consensus nominee with strong support from the two Tennessee GOP senators," Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who studies federal judgeships, said during the confirmation vote.
"No surprises," he said afterward.
Tobias emphasized that Corker's connection was crucial to securing the confirmation vote and said the senators deserve credit for McDonough's appointment process.
"It just shows that you don't have to have a big fight over that stuff if you work together," he said.
He did, however, point out that senators need to fill the federal vacancies for the Middle District, where Crenshaw has been nominated, and the Western District, where Edward Stanton has been nominated. Both men are black and have the home state support of their Republican lawmakers, according to a news release from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
McDonough, who received his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School and his undergraduate degree in 1994 from Sewanee: The University of the South, was not immediately available for comment.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow @zackpeterson918.
Updated Dec. 7 at 10:45 p.m.