Democrat gets Berke’s backing in Senate District 10 (but not former foe’s)

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is now backing Khristy Wilkinson, the Democratic nominee against Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire, though she defeated a top Berke aide that the mayor strongly backed in the primary, according to an Andy Sher look at the Senate District 10 campaign.

On the other hand, the top aide she defeated in August, Nick Wilkinson (no relation)), has not offered any help, says according to Khristy Wilkinson.

“Mayor Berke has helped me and he continues to help me,” Wilkinson said last week in an interview during a trip to Nashville, where she met with several Senate Democrats and potential contributors.

…(Berke) “gives me advice whenever I call, and he’s made contributions to my campaign. And he has asked folks who support him to support me.” Wilkinson said she has been “well received by members of the city council and people who work in City Hall and things like that. [Berke’s] using his voice to help me as much as he can now that he is, of course, running his own reelection campaign” for mayor.

…During the primary, Berke gave whole-hearted support to Nick Wilkinson, his deputy for economic development. The mayor, who held the Senate seat from 2007 to November 2012, personally contributed $1,000 to his aide, while a leadership political action committee that Berke created during his Senate tenure, gave another $11,000, according to disclosures filed with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

…But Khristy Wilkinson, the former philosophy professor and mother of two who supported Bernie Sanders in this year’s Democratic presidential primaries, pulled off an upset on a shoe-string budget in Democrats’ primary.

.…In response to a question about whether her former opponent, Nick Wilkinson, is helping her in her effort against Gardenhire, Khristy Wilkinson said he wasn’t. Asked whether she had requested help from him, she smiled and said, “I would if he returned my phone calls.”

…Gardenhire, who is seeking his second Senate Term, said that after having had no opponent in his August GOP primary, he’s not taking anything for granted in the general election with Wilkinson.

“The thing that worries me the most is she’s a hard worker,” he said. “She’s an intelligent person.”

However, he said he’s heard from a number of his supporters that he has “no problem.”

“That’s the worst thing I could hear,” the senator said, worrying backers could be over confident, with Republicans not showing up on Nov. 8.