Chip Leaving as Chuck’s Chief

Congressman Chuck Fleischmann’s office announced Friday that Chip Saltsman will step down as Fleischmann’s chief of staff effective Jan. 1 after what the Chattanooga Times-Free Press characterizes as “a successful, high-profile and sometimes controversial three years as a confidant, campaign consultant and office supervisor.”
“Chip has been an incredible asset for the last two years,” Fleischmann said in a news release. “His knowledge of politics and public policy is second to none. I thank him for his tireless service and look forward to his advice and counsel in the future.”
Fleischmann legislative director Jim Hippe, a former Bill Frist staffer, will replace Saltsman. The news release gave no reason for the change but said it was part of a long-term plan.
The 2008 presidential campaign manager for FOX News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Saltsman was considered by those close to Fleischmann to favor politics over government. As a campaign consultant, he brass-knuckled health care consultant Robin Smith in 2010 and retired dairy executive Scottie Mayfield this year. Both were considered Fleischmann’s top rivals in consecutive Republican primaries.
“Without question Chip takes a no-holds-barred approach to winning,” Smith said.
Saltsman did not return a call seeking comment Friday. A former Smith aide is suing Fleischmann and Saltsman over advertising and maneuvering in the 2010 election. The case remains in litigation, and campaign funds have been used to pay Saltsman’s legal fees. Fleischmann has called the lawsuit “frivolous.”
A longtime political operative and former Tennessee Republican Party chairman, Saltsman is perhaps best known nationally for his abbreviated campaign for chairman of the Republican National Committee. The bid fizzled in December 2008 when Saltsman distributed a song to supporters called “Barack the Magic Negro,” a parody sung to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon” that mocked President Obama. Less than a year later, he went to work for Fleischmann
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