Todd Gardenhire scored a victory in the race for Tennessee’s 10th Senate District, bringing a Republican face to a district that had been represented by Democrats for decades.
Gardenhire, 64, defeated his Democratic challenger, Chattanooga City Councilman Andraé McGary, by roughly 6,000 votes. In the district that spans Hamilton and Bradley counties, unofficial results showed Gardenhire scored 54 percent of votes-approximately 28,200 ballots-compared to 46 percent of votes cast in favor of McGary.
Gardenhire said he was pleased with his margin of victory.
“The district, even though it was drawn for a Republican, was only marginally drawn,” McGary said. “So in a presidential election year, I feel pretty good about getting that margin. It was a lot of work, a lot of ground work, going door to door, making phone calls-it was just an old-fashioned campaign.”
After redistricting, boundaries for the 10th Senate District were shifted to favor Republican leaning areas of Hamilton and Bradley counties. The district lost all of Marion County.
Not long after the new lines were revealed and approved, Democratic state Sen. Andy Berke announced he would not seek re-election to the seat he had held since 2007 and instead run for Chattanooga mayor. Berke’s decision opened up the seat for a possible shift from blue to red-a prospect that was realized Tuesday and bolstered a GOP supermajority in the General Assembly for the first time.
Following the August primary, McGary emerged the victor over two Democratic opponents. Gardenhire scored a narrow victory over Chattanooga businessman Greg Vital, defeating his Republican opponent by a margin of 40 votes.
Conceding defeat, McGary said he would “never forget” his bid for Senate and extended his thanks to supporters. The city councilman, who has said he will not seek an additional term, congratulated Gardenhire and added his desire to assist him during his term if the opportunity presented itself.
“I wish to congratulate Sen. Gardenhire and all of the folks who helped him get elected,” McGary said. “It is my sincere hope to assist him as he takes the interests of the 10th District before Nashville and begins to move our state forward.”
Gardenhire said he would be willing to work with McGary on future issues if possible.
“I wish him and his family the best,” Gardenhire said. “You know, if there’s anything I can do for him, I hope he calls and asks me. If I can, I will, and if I can’t, I’ll man up and say I can’t do it.”