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Todd Gardenhire laughs after an introduction by Tennessee State Senator Bo Watson at the Double Tree hotel Tuesday night in downtown Chattanooga.

This is a developing story.

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Khristy Wilkinson
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NASHVILLE — Incumbent state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, has declared victory in his contest with Democrat Khristy Wilkinson in Tennessee's Senate 10 race.

"Most of the precincts are in and I've got such a large margin in Bradley County it'd be hard to overcome anything," Gardenhire said of unofficial results, much of which were in for the district that includes portions of Hamilton and Bradley counties.

Unofficial returns showed Gardenhire had built up a 6,063 vote lead.

Returns from Hamilton and Bradley counties show Gardenhire leading in the district by 33,700 to 27,637 votes in the district.

Gardenhire was behind in Hamilton County, which includes Democratic Chattanooga, where Wilkinson, a former UT-Chattanooga adjunct professor, led by 25,766 to 24,165 votes, according to the Hamilton County Election Commission website.

But Gardenhire was making that up and more in overwhelmingly Republican portions of Bradley with a 9,535 to 1,871 lead, according to the Bradley Election Commission website.

The Southeast Tennessee district is one of just two statewide that beleaguered Tennessee Democrats are contesting as they seek to make inroads into Senate Republicans' 28-5 "super majority" in the chamber.

The other is in Nashville where Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, has declared victory over Democratic challenger Erin Coleman.

Stay with the Times Free Press as more information becomes available.

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