Third District Republican congressman Chuck Fleischmann tells the Times-Free Press that he raised more than $250,000 in the third quarter that ended Sept. 30 and will report this week to the Federal Election Commission that his total campaign cash on hand is nearly $800,000.
“We’ve been very fortunate again,” Fleischmann said in an interview Friday. “This year we have had three robust quarters. We will be filing with a cash-on-hand [amount] in excess of $785,000, which is really a wonderful situation for us to be in.”
Fleischmann said he believes the “vast majority of our constituents now in my third term have been able to see what I have been able to do as an effective leader in our Congress, working on so many endeavors, and they wanted to make a statement that they wanted me to remain as their congressman. And I’m feeling thankful for that.”
While he doesn’t know if he’ll get a GOP challenger, Fleischmann said he wanted this year to “remain absolutely certain on the political side that in the event we did get a big challenge that we would be vigilant, diligent and well prepared. And we are.”
In a solidly Republican district, Fleischmann first won the 2010 GOP primary in a multi-candidate, brutal slugfest to succeed then-U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn. He then easily won the general election.
But residual ill feeling from the 2010 GOP primary, a low campaign war chest and what has been described as Fleischmann’s sometimes-awkward public style helped contribute to his drawing GOP primary challenges in 2012 from Weston Wamp, son of the former congressman, and Athens businessman Scottie Mayfield.
Fleischmann won with 39 percent of the vote in that contest. In 2014, the younger Wamp challenged him again in a hard-fought, bitter contest that Fleischmann won by less than 2 percentage points.
Then last spring, state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, told the Times Free Press he wasn’t ruling out challenging Fleischmann. Even as he was saying it, supporters were pushing him to run and predicting he would…. Asked about Watson, Fleischmann said “he has not told me one way or another. Obviously he’ll have to make that decision.” The congressman said “the great thing about Bo is that we’ve retained our friendship and relationship throughout this process.”