At a fundraising event in Chattanooga, state Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini said gaining ground in the Legislature is the party’s top priority and state Senate District 10 is the first battleground, reports the Times-Free Press.
The district is held by Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire. It includes the southern parts of Hamilton County, including Chattanooga and East Ridge, and a large swath of southern and eastern Bradley County.
Gardenhire has served since 2013, after now-Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, a Democrat, said in 2012 he wouldn’t seek re-election. Berke had held the seat since 2008.Gardenhire was the firs t Republican to hold the seat in four decades.
…Gardenhire said Friday he was not surprised at all. He said the Democratic party started its campaign against him months ago.
“I’ve been saying all along that the state Democratic chair and the local Democratic chairman has been the impetus behind all the harassment and the protests, even though they deny it,” Gardenhire said. “But that’s OK. This is America. It’s their job to field candidates, and it’s our job to protect our seats.”
Mancini said Friday in a phone interview that Gardenhire brought protestors and criticism upon himself.
“I think Senator Gardenhire has to take responsibility for that. He’s the one who voted against Insure Tennessee. He’s the one who voted not to give 300,000 Tennesseans the same access to health care that he has,” Mancini said.