With the general election in the rearview mirror and four months remaining until Chattanooga's municipal election, outgoing state Sen. Andy Berke has officially picked up papers to run for mayor.
For Berke, who announced his candidacy six months ago, the move represents little more than a chance to continue building grassroots and financial support around a campaign that has already scored more than $260,000 in contributions from more than 1,000 donors. Upon picking up his petition, Berke issued a letter to supporters, stating he was "excited about taking our campaign to the next level."
"We have had tremendous success since I announced my candidacy, and I am excited about taking our campaign to the next level," Berke wrote in a message with the subject line "Begin." "We have worked together to lay the foundation for a campaign that will not only win in March 2013, but will change the future of our city."
Berke then invited supporters to attend a campaign kickoff rally to sign his petition at Bessie Smith Hall on Nov. 15, along with a citywide canvassing to be organized the following day.
Since declaring his bid, Berke has hosted numerous campaign events, attended a fundraiser for his campaign in Knoxville and hosted Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero for a Women for Berke Committee luncheon that was attended by more than 325 women.
Berke's lone challenger at this point, former city transportation inspector Guy Satterfield, has not filed any campaign finance disclosures. Rob Healy, a former mayoral candidate who ran against current Mayor Ron Littlefield, has begun exploring a second bid for mayor but has not picked up any paperwork to declare a candidacy.
County Commissioner Warren Mackey and Jim Folkner, leader of Citizens to Recall Mayor Ron Littlefield, are two other names that have been floated as potential mayoral candidates next year.
Berke, who was elected to serve as senator for Tennessee's 10th District, announced his intent not to seek re-election to the seat shortly after new redistricting maps were unveiled earlier this year. Republican Todd Gardenhire, a first-time candidate, defeated Democratic Chattanooga City Councilman Andraé McGary to secure the post in General Assembly in Tuesday's general election.
Municipal elections for the city of Chattanooga are March 5.