What happens if Mayor Andy Berke runs for U.S. Senate? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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What happens if Mayor Andy Berke runs for U.S. Senate?

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File photo of Berke's re-election victory in 2017. File photo of Berke's re-election victory in 2017.
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

If Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke chooses to run for U.S. Senate, there could be a domino effect in city government.

Berke was re-elected in march to a second term, leaving three years left in his time in office. 

We wanted to know what could happen if Berke goes to Washington. 

Berke would not have to step down as mayor if he decides to run for U.S. Senate; that would only happen if he was elected. 

According to the city's charter, the mayor can campaign for another office while in office.

But if Berke runs, and is elected in the primary election, he would likely have to vacate the mayor's seat. It will be next fall before that is determined, leaving Berke to campaign between now and then. Channel 3 spoke to a political science professor, who says a campaign would take Berke out of town quite a bit. 

"He knows that he has those three counties locked in but he has to came campaign and every county in Tennessee because it is a statewide election and so yes he will be doing a significant amount of traveling figuring out his base talking to those folks in seeing what he can do to move his campaign forward," said UC Foundation Assistant Professor, Amanda Wintersieck. 

If Berke did step down it would be up to the chairman of the Chattanooga City Council to serve as interim mayor until the next election. Ken Smith is the current chairman, but the council selects a leader each year, typically in April.

Berke has until April 5 to qualify for a senate run. 

Wintersieck has specialized in election campaigns for about eight years. She says Berke may have an uphill battle if he chooses to run. 

"As a democrat he does face significant hurdles to election. Hillary Clinton only took three counties in Tennessee. He knows that he has those three counties locked in, but he has to campaign in every county in Tennessee because it is a statewide election. So yes, he will be doing a significant amount of traveling figuring out his base, talking to those folks and seeing what he can do to move his campaign forward," said Wintersieck. 

Funding is an important factor for any campaign. Wintersieck says on average, senate elections costs at least $10.5M. 

Channel 3 asked Mayor Berke about possibly running for Senate, while being mayor at the grand opening of a new data center in Chattanooga called, DC Blox. 

READ MORE | UPDATE: Corker retirement sets off TN succession speculation; Berke considering run

"Right now what I'm doing is listening to what people have to say. They're excited about seeing a change in Washington and seeing things move forward and as I get farther along with the process and speak with my family I will certainly consider those questions," said Berke. 

If Berke decides to run, Wintersieck says it will give a variety of options for voters in the Tennessee. 

"We are going to have a competitive election, which brings out good candidates. They'll be forced to talk to their voters and put forward policy agendas that makes sense for the people of Tennessee." 

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