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Contributed photo / Weston Wamp

Hamilton County mayoral candidate Weston Wamp has been endorsed by Tennessee state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and former Hamilton County Sheriff John Cupp.

Wamp, R-Chattanooga, announced the endorsements Friday. They are the candidate's first endorsements in a race that is beginning to see endorsements for candidates start rolling in as the May 3 primary election approaches.

"It's an honor because we take for granted these days that this is a conservative county," Wamp said in a Friday phone interview. "But Sen. Gardenhire and Sheriff Cupp are the most responsible for turning this county into a conservative county and serving with dignity and respectfulness that causes the Republican Party to be successful here. What they understand is the legacy and tradition of conservatives in our state, and that the torch should be carried by younger leaders from time to time."

(READ MORE: Firefighters union endorses Sabrena Smedley for Hamilton County mayor)

Gardenhire, who is serving his third term in the state Senate, has experience in conservative politics dating back to when he served as the Tennessee chair of former President Ronald Reagan's campaign in 1976, Wamp's announcement notes.

The senator has known Wamp since he was about 4 years old, he said in a Friday phone interview, adding he recommended Wamp to Gov. Bill Lee to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents — a position that puts him at an advantage when it comes to bolstering educational opportunities in the county.

"He has always been a person that wants to try to get innovative ways to approaching problems that we have in this county and around, especially job related, and I've just watched him over the years," Gardenhire said. "He has a tremendous amount of energy. He listens to everybody, and that's important."

(READ MORE: Hamilton County mayor candidates talk pandemic mandates, education at Calvary Chapel)

Cupp, who served as county sheriff from 1994 to 2006 and defeated Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond twice when Hammond ran as a Democrat, according to the announcement, in a statement said Wamp is "the leading conservative for his generation in our community."

"As our next county mayor, he will serve with integrity and a demonstrated passion for education," Cupp said. "As a parent of four, a successful businessman and a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, he will bring a unique perspective to the county mayor's office, and I wholeheartedly endorse him."

Before the endorsement announcement Friday, Wamp last week pointed to a variety of individuals who have donated to or worked along with his campaign.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County mayor candidates talk pandemic mandates, education at Calvary Chapel)

Hamilton County school board member Joe Smith, of Hixson, was featured in one of Wamp's ads, he said. In addition, school board member Tiffanie Robinson, of Chattanooga, has donated to his campaign.

The Times Free Press is maintaining a list to track endorsements of all candidates.

Hamilton County Commission chair Sabrena Smedley, R-Ooltewah, has received endorsements from Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association Local #820 and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local #673.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County mayor candidates talk pandemic mandates, education at Calvary Chapel)

Matt Hullander, R-Chattanooga, has announced endorsements from Hammond and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga.

Hullander's website also includes a list of nearly 60 local residents who have endorsed him, which includes business leaders like Tom Decosimo, CEO of Decosimo Corporate Finance.

The voter registration deadline for the primary election is April 4. Early voting will take place between April 13 and April 28, and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is April 26. The winners from the party primaries will meet in the general election in August.

Contact Logan Hullinger at lhullinger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow him on Twitter @LoganHullinger.

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