Tag Archives: district 10

Chattanooga Republican Spent $385,400 of His Own Money in Losing Senate Bid

Chattanooga Republican Greg Vital wound up putting $385,400 of his own money into an ultimately losing August GOP primary battle with fellow GOP candidate Todd Gardenhire, according to Action Andy’s review of new state filings.
Vital, a successful health care entrepreneur and developer, reported spending $500,000 over the course of the campaign, according to his third quarter disclosure filed with the Registry of Election Finance.
Efforts Tuesday to contact Vital, who lost the open Senate District 10 race by a heart-stopping 45 votes, were unsuccessful.
As of Tuesday night, Gardenhire had not filed his latest disclosure, which covers the period from July 24 to Sept. 30 and includes final primary spending. The filing deadline is today.
Democrat Andraé McGary has yet to file as well. Up through July 23, Gardenhire reported total receipts of $116,205, including $86,205 in self-made loans, and expenditures of $105,000. The primary was Aug. 2.

Ramsey Helps Gardenhire Raise $10K

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey headlined a Chattanooga fundraiser Monday for state Senate Republican nominee Todd Gardenhire, reports Chris Carroll.
In return for a $250 suggested donation, several Republican elected officials and a few dozen supporters heard speeches, rubbed elbows and enjoyed a multicourse meal at the downtown Mountain City Club.
The Gardenhire campaign didn’t fill up the dozen or so tables it reserved, but a staffer said the lunchtime meeting likely exceeded a goal of $10,000.
The fundraiser and public show of Republican unity stands in contrast to the situation Gardenhire’s 10th Senate District opponent finds himself battling.
Democratic nominee and Chattanooga City Councilman Andraé McGary in a Sunday Times Free Press story lamented the fact that the seat’s sitting Democrat, Sen. Andy Berke, won’t endorse him.

McGary-Gardenhire Forum: Guns and Groans

Major differences emerged between the men seeking Democratic state Sen. Andy Berke’s seat in a forum sponsored by the Chattanooga Voter Empowerment Group, the Chattanooga Times Free Press and NAACP, according to Chris Carroll.
Asked how he would resolve a growing inner-city gun problem, (Todd) Gardenhire touted his endorsement from the National Rifle Association and said “responsible” gun owners shouldn’t be deterred by “the crazies” who obtain guns illegally.
(Andae) McGary quickly retorted that guns don’t belong in churches, schools, parking lots or the workplace. He blamed cuts in education for the city’s crime issues and criticized lawmakers who allow the Legislature to be used as “an open place for the NRA to declare war” on advocates for gun control.
When the questions ventured into education, Gardenhire came out in favor of school vouchers, an issue McGary said wouldn’t exist if “our schools were properly funded.”
After Gardenhire’s closing statement, McGary criticized its length and called it a “CPM” — what he later explained in a text message as a “colored people’s minute.”
“Gardenhire was supposed to limit his answer to a minute,” said McGary, who is black. “He took three.”
Race entered the discussion when Adams asked both candidates if Republicans were fair to minorities during the redistricting process.
“Whether somebody was being fair or unfair, it depends on what side you are,” Gardenhire said, drawing audible groans.

Senate Candidate Forsees Opponent ‘Putting Forth Lies’

State Senate Democratic nominee Andraé McGary on Wednesday predicted his Republican opponent, Todd Gardenhire, “will campaign by putting forth lies” in the days before early voting begins Oct. 17.
From Chris Carroll’s report:
Citing reports from “very reputable Republican sources” whom he declined to name, the 33-year-old Chattanooga city councilman declared that Gardenhire would paint him inaccurately as a liberal who supports a state income tax and accepts government assistance to provide for his wife and five young children.
Gardenhire and McGary are campaigning to represent Senate District 10, which includes portions of Bradley and Hamilton counties. State Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, isn’t seeking re-election so he can run for Chattanooga mayor.
A former radio talk show host who quit his job to run for office, McGary also said he’s heard of a “whisper campaign” that he sells drugs to finance his “nice suits.”
Gardenhire has made only one of the statements — the income tax issue — but McGary denied even the hypothetical rumors, calling them “blatant lies” during a news conference at Hamilton County Democratic Party headquarters in Chattanooga.
Gardenhire, 64, declined interview requests. Campaign spokesman Nick Collins issued a prepared statement that slammed McGary’s aggressive media strategy.
“Focusing on real issues is the only activity Mr. Gardenhire is engaged in,” Collins said. “Attempts to drag this campaign in the mud will be unsuccessful.”

Gardenhire Dodging Promised Debates?

On Aug. 8, Republican state Senate nominee Todd Gardenhire pledged at least two debates with Democrat Andraé McGary, saying 10th District voters deserve a chance to examine their choices. Since then, reports Chris Carroll, Gardenhire has skipped several opportunities to fulfill his promise.
A radio talk show host, a Libertarian group and the Chattanooga Voter Empowerment Movement on Wednesday said Gardenhire refused or ignored their separate debate requests while McGary quickly accepted all three invitations.
“We’re not waiting on this clown,” said McGary, 32, a Chattanooga city councilman and Democrat. “His language about being exuberant or excited about debating is a bunch of lies.”
Both men are seeking the soon-to-be-vacated 10th District Senate seat, which covers parts of Bradley and Hamilton counties.

Vital Concedes to Gardenhire in Senate District 10 GOP Primary

Greg Vital has conceded the District 10 state Senate Republican primary to Todd Gardenhire, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
The decision came after Vital mulled over the possibility of asking for a recount.
“Although it was a very close race, the election is over,” Vital said in a statement.


UPDATE: Tennessee Ticket has posted the full Vital statement, HERE.

A Divorce, a Mailer and the ‘Pinocchio for Senate’ Campaign?

Republican state Senate candidate Todd Gardenhire accused his primary opponent, Greg Vital, of anonymously mailing to voters a 15-year-old request from Gardenhire’s ex-wife, asking for a protective order against him, but not telling “the rest of the story” — that a judge dismissed the entire matter nine days later.
An excerpt from the rest of Chris Carroll’s story:
“The other thing missing from this [letter] was a disclaimer,” Gardenhire said Tuesday. “The disclaimer should have read, ‘This letter was authorized by the Pinocchio for State Senate Campaign, Greg Vital, chairman.'”
Both men are running in Senate District 10’s Republican primary to replace Sen. Andy Berke, a Democrat who’s declined a re-election bid in order to run for mayor of Chattanooga.
Gardenhire launched the accusations at Vital during a dramatic lunchtime meeting of the Hamilton County Republican Women’s Club at county GOP headquarters in Chattanooga. While both candidates verbally sparred, Vital never addressed whether his campaign mailed the petition.
Pressed about the mailer after the meeting, Vital initially refused to answer questions.
“You’re badgering,” he told a reporter. “I got one in the mail, too. That’s all I’m saying.”
Moments later, he threw up his hands and said, “I have no idea” when asked directly whether he or his campaign had any involvement in sending the mailer.
Gardenhire’s “Pinocchio” accusation came a week after the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported occasions in which Vital’s websites or Vital himself said he was a college graduate despite his never graduating.
Last week, an unknown number of Hamilton County homes received a handwritten envelope containing a petition for an order of protection. There was no return address.
Written June 27, 1997, by Gardenhire’s ex-wife, Kathy Gardenhire, the petition says she and their young son were “afraid for our lives” after Gardenhire “started raging,” “losing control” and “[throwing] things as hard as he can.”
“He raves through the house threatening me bodily harm,” she wrote in the petition.
But court records show that, nine days later, Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern signed an order dismissing the petition, noting that Kathy Gardenhire “asked that this action be dismissed.”
“[The] Court has determined that both parties have come to an agreement and a dismissal is in the best interest of the parties,” the order reads.
That information wasn’t included in the mailer. The Gardenhires remained married until “irreconcilable differences” led to a divorce that was finalized in 2008, court records show.

Candidate Vital: College Graduation Claim ‘a Freudian slip’

State Senate Republican candidate Greg Vital said he’s not a college graduate despite saying the opposite in a public forum, reports Chris Carroll.
“That was a Freudian slip,” Vital said Tuesday. “It was a mistake.”
Vital is campaigning for the District 10 seat now held by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, who’s running for Chattanooga mayor.
On May 31, Vital spoke at a candidate forum sponsored by the Hamilton County Young Republicans. During his opening remarks, Vital said he “finished up” college in 1979 and “graduated with only $900 on my student loan.”
Vital’s campaign website says he “attended” Southern Adventist University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Officials at both schools confirmed Vital’s enrollment, but said he never graduated.
“It slipped,” Vital said in a phone interview. “What I meant was I finished college whenever I finished and I still owed $900. That was the point.”
Vital said he has “never embellished” his education in the past, but an online biography appears to discredit that claim.
A website for the Bragg Point condominiums in Missionary Ridge lists Vital as the residential project’s co-developer and includes a detailed professional biography that says: “Vital holds an undergraduate degree in business administration from Southern Adventist University.”

Car Talk in Senate District 10

As part of a rambling but readable report on the state Senate District 10 campaign, Chris Carroll says that Republican primary competitors Todd Gardenhire and Greg Vital “spar over vehicles, not bumper stickers.”
During a break in the Flint Springs action, Vital touted his 16 years as president and CEO of Morning Pointe, a chain of assisted-living centers based in Ooltewah. He said he created 800 jobs after starting the company in 1996.
Then he whipped out the scarlet letter of the “1 percent” era: “He’s a Wall Street businessman,” Vital remarked of Gardenhire, who manages funds for foundations, pensions and endowments.
“I created jobs while he was moving money around for Wall Street,” Vital added.
Gardenhire scoffed and said Vital briefly worked for the brokerage firm Dean Witter, which merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997.
True, Vital said, for “two years, 25 years ago.”
Gardenhire hit back again, pointing out Vital’s “high-class BMW” at the Flint Springs luncheon.
Vital said it’s a 2005 model with 150,000 miles on it, adding that he has a Toyota Tundra himself.
“And a Ford farm truck,” he said.
After loaning himself $75,000, Vital had out-raised Gardenhire 12-to-1 by the end of March. Gardenhire counted $5,270 on hand while Vital reported $63,869 in the bank, records show.
“Who are people going to relate to?” Gardenhire wondered aloud. “Me, who’s driven a [2008] Toyota Tundra I’ve had for a while, or somebody that drives a BMW?”
“That seems a little desperate,” Vital fired back.

Andy Berke for Mayor? Vince Dean for Senate? Redistricting to Split Bradley County?

Redistricting may put more Republicans into state Senate District 10, now held by Democratic Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga. If that happens, Republican state Rep. Vince Dean says he’d be interested in seeking the seat, reports Andy Sher.
Berke, meanwhile, says he’d be interested in running for mayor of Chattanooga if things don’t work out for current mayor Ron Littlefield in a recall flap.
Berke is not ruling out running for mayor, although he said Sunday evening his considerations aren’t based on what the 10th District looks like after redistricting next year. Short on people Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said Sunday that the 10th District needs more people. The Democratic-leaning district, which includes much of Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Marion County, is 16,153 people short of the ideal population of 192,306, based on U.S. Census figures.
Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, said Sunday that the 10th District needs more people.
The Democratic-leaning district, which includes much of Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain and Marion County, is 16,153 people short of the ideal population of 192,306, based on U.S. Census figures.
“Certainly one concept that’s been looked at is can you take the 10th and move it eastward toward Bradley,” Watson said.
“That concept has been looked at, but no decision has been made,” he emphasized.
Taking out Marion County’s 28,237 people, plus the need to add 14,000 to 16,000 people to the 10th, would open an opportunity to add East Ridge and southern Bradley County, both Republican areas.
Dean, a former East Ridge mayor, said he would “certainly explore the possibilities” of a Senate run, but “only after the district lines are finalized.”
“I’m not going to jump out there and say I’m running for a district I haven’t seen,” Dean said.
Berke said he hasn’t seen a map or any proposed lines, but he thinks there’s a constitutional problem with such a redrawing.
“The [Tennessee] Constitution says that you can’t divide counties, and the reason for that is to make sure counties maintain their strength.
“When you divide Bradley County you minimize its ability to speak with one voice,” Berke said. “Any attempt to split Bradley County certainly appears to violate the Constitution and hurts [its residents’] abilities to have power in the legislature.”

Note: THe Cleveland Daily Banner has an article on the possibility of Bradley County being split in Senate redistricting. Sen. Mike Bell, who currently represents all of the county, had no comment.