published Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Andy Berke flexes fundraising muscle for mayoral run


by Cliff Hightower
Andy Berke
Andy Berke
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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State Sen. Andy Berke is already posting behemoth numbers for a mayoral election that is still eight months away.

The Chattanooga Democrat has raised $271,050 since he declared in May that he would run for mayor of Chattanooga. He now has $383,000 in cash on hand, putting him in a fundraising position not seen since former Mayor Bob Corker ran in 2001.

"We have laid a strong foundation, with over 600 donors and 300 volunteers," Berke said in a statement. "In the coming months we will continue reaching out to people who are interested in leadership that works on the economic development and quality-of-life issues facing our community."

The Andy Berke for Mayor campaign released its financial disclosure statement to the Times Free Press on Friday. Campaign officials said they plan to give the disclosure to the Hamilton County Election Commission this week.

Other potential mayoral candidates said Friday they were not surprised by the results.

Citizens to Recall Mayor Littlefield founder Jim Folkner, former Parks and Recreation Director Rob Healy, Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd, County Commissioner Warren Mackey and Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee President Roger Tuder are considering mayoral runs.

Ladd said Friday she expected Berke to raise "that kind of money."

"I've said all along a campaign has to raise $500,000 or $600,000," she said.

But she believes plenty of donors are willing to give to other campaigns within Chattanooga.

Tuder agreed with Ladd.

"It doesn't surprise me," he said. "I don't think it should surprise anybody."

He said he knew it would be an expensive race coming in and is prepared for that if he steps in.

Healy, who ran against Mayor Ron Littlefield in 2009, said he also knew Berke would be able to raise money.

"I would imagine that Andy will raise more money, and I imagine that Andy will raise more money than any other candidate," he said. "But it's up to the voters to decide who will be mayor."

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