The youngest person ever elected to the Chattanooga City Council said he’s more than a Democrat angling for higher office.
“There are no Republican ideas and there are no Democratic ideas,” 32-year-old Andraé McGary said Friday. “I know there are many people who want to think of things that way, but I certainly do not. I ask one question: Are they good ideas?”
Joined by his wife and three of his young children at a Friday morning news conference, McGary announced he’ll run against Hamilton County Board of Education member David Testerman in the Democratic primary for the 10th District Tennessee Senate seat. Quenston Coleman also has picked up qualifying papers for the race but has not turned them in.
McGary hopes to replace state Sen. Andy Berke, an attorney and Chattanooga Democrat who decided against re-election after redistricting. Berke has been eyeing a possible run for Chattanooga mayor.
Republicans in the 10th District race are local businessmen Todd Gardenhire and Greg Vital.
In emphasizing jobs, health care and bipartisanship at the news conference, McGary attempted to deflect skepticism about his chances in a district that now leans Republican.
The 10th District once stretched from Hamilton County to dependably Democratic Marion County, but the GOP-controlled Legislature omitted the Marion portion this year and replaced it with some of Republican-dominated Bradley County.
McGary said he’s had friendly conversations with Bradley residents.
“I will not say their names,” he said, “but they are very notable individuals.”
McGary resigned his duties as a talk radio show host, “Live and Local,” on WGOW-FM Talk Radio 102.3.
WGOW Program Director Kevin West confirmed the resignation, which took effect after McGary’s show concluded Friday afternoon. West said he has some guest hosts lined up for next week.
“We haven’t decided on a permanent replacement yet,” he said.
McGary has hosted “Live and Local” since May 2010, when he replaced Robert T. Nash.
The councilman made no mention of taking any other jobs as he campaigns for the state Senate.
As a city councilman, McGary makes $21,991 a year. Tennessee state senators make $19,009 annually.
McGary currently represents District 8 on the City Council, which includes the downtown area as well as Clifton Hills and Avondale. He took the seat in 2009 as a 29-year-old when he beat Leamon Pierce, a council veteran known for his civil rights activism.
McGary said he won’t seek re-election to City Council if he loses the Senate bid. If he wins the Senate seat, he’ll have to resign from council, City Attorney Mike McMahan has said.
McGary once considered a run for Chattanooga mayor and, in 2009, he thought about campaigning for the 3rd Congressional District seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp. He pursued neither.
Asked if he worried that his upcoming City Council votes could be seen as posturing for state Senate support from Republicans, McGary said no.
“There’s always a temptation as a politician to posture whether you’re running for a seat or not,” he said. “It’s my desire to do as I’ve always done — to explain where I stand on the issues and to vote according to my convictions and the will of the people.”
The primary is Aug. 2.