By David Carroll

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Outgoing 3rd District Congressman Zach Wamp has endorsed former General Sessions Judge Mike Carter as Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey's replacement. Carter is Mayor Ramsey's cousin.

The announcement came Saturday on the heels of Governor-elect Bill Haslam's appointment of  Ramsey as deputy governor and chief of staff.

Wamp had been touted by some for County Mayor, but he says he will return to the public sector on January 3rd.  He has served Tennessee's 3rd District in the U.S. House since 1995.  The two other major candidates for the County Mayor position, Commissioners Jim Coppinger and Larry Henry say Wamp called them Saturday to inform them of his endorsement.  Both said they believed Wamp is supporting Carter due to his role as Hamilton County chairman of Wamp's unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Carter, 56, was appointed as General Sessions Court Judge in 1997, and was elected as General Sessions Judge in 1998.  He retired from the General Sessions Court in 2005 and joined Life Care Centers of America as assistant to chairman Forest Preston. 

In early 2009, he began serving as the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority's attorney.  He began serving part time in the county attorney's office.  For the first year, Carter's pay was reported to be $2,500 per month, plus travel and office expenses.

According to Hamilton County government salary figures released in August 2010, Carter's title was changed to assistant county attorney, with an annual salary of $95,000.

In February 2009, he contributed $2,500 to Rep. Wamp's gubernatorial campaign, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.  Later that year, he was named as a Hamilton County co-chairman of Rep. Wamp's campaign, along with Assessor of Property Bill Bennett.

He is a graduate of Ooltewah High School, Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis School of Law. Judge Carter and his wife Joan have two sons and reside in Ooltewah.