Tag Archives: 3rd District

Fleischmann coasts to primary win

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleishmann, who faced intense opposition from fellow Republicans in past campaigns, coasted to a victory in Thursday’s 2016 GOP primary over two opponents who put little money into their unsuccessful efforts – one of them a Georgia resident.

The primary win puts Fleischmann, a Chattanooga lawyer, on a clear path toward a fourth two-year term of representing the 3rd Congressional District, which leans strongly Republican. His Democratic opponent in November will be Melody Shekari, who won a three-candidate contest for the district’s minority party nomination.

Unofficial returns Thursday night showed Fleischmann winning the GOP nod with about 84 percent of the vote while Allan Levene, who lives in Georgia and has run for Congress in that state and two others, and tea party activist Geoffery Suhmer Smith of Athens, each had about 8 percent.

In the Democratic primary, Shekari, a lawyer who has worked with Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, was winning about 51 percent of the Democratic primary vote with Michael Friedman, a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga professor, second with 34 percent, followed by George Ryan Love of Chattanooga at about 15 percent.

(Note: Returns available on Division of Elections website, HERE. Continue reading

‘Make America White’ candidate revels in criticism of billboard

Tennessee politicians have lambasted a billboard declaring “Make America White Again” while Rick Tyler, the independent congressional candidate who paid for it, says that’s just what he wanted. So reports the Times-Free Press.

(T)he 58-year-old Ocoee, Tenn., restaurateur reveled in the controversy his two billboards elicited.

While both signs — the second featuring a picture of the White House festooned with Confederate flags — were taken down by the billboards’ owners Wednesday, Tyler said on his campaign website that “be assured, the response that has been engendered by the billboard is precisely what was expected and hoped for.

“You see this is not a mere publicity stunt, but rather a calculated maneuver to dispense hardcore truth while simultaneously doing an end run around the iron curtain of censorship,” the site reads.

Tyler added that his “Make America White Again” billboard was indeed a takeoff on GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”

In a Times Free Press interview Wednesday, Tyler, principal owner of the Whitewater Grill in Ocoee, described himself as an “insurgent candidate” in the 3rd Congressional District race. Tyler said he wants to ban non-whites from emigrating legally or illegally to the U.S., deport undocumented immigrants already here and end government-support programs he says encourage non-whites to have children at taxpayer expense.

While Tyler says he is on a mission to save America and return the country to its past, Tennessee House Minority Leader Joe Towns, D-Memphis, wasn’t buying any of it, calling Tyler a “con and a psychopath.”

“He doesn’t need to lead a pack of dogs,” Towns, who is black, said of Tyler.

News release from Tennessee Republican Party
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – June 22, 2016 — Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes released the following statement regarding Independent Congressional Candidate Rick Tyler’s offensive billboards in Polk County, Tennessee:

“There’s no room for this type of hateful display in our political discourse. Racism should be rejected in all its heinous forms in the Third Congressional District and around the country.”

Candidate runs for Congress in two states — TN and GA

Allan Levene, who in 2014 ran for Congress in his home state of Georgia as well as in Florida, this year is running for Congress in Georgia and Tennessee.

From the Times-Free Press:

(Levene) qualified for the Republican primaries in the 3rd Congressional District in Tennessee, opposite incumbent Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga, and in Georgia’s 14th District, whose incumbent is Republican Tom Graves, of Ranger, Ga.

Levene doesn’t live in either district — he lives in Kennesaw, Ga. His district campaign headquarters consist of mailboxes at UPS stores in Rome, Ga., and on Signal Mountain Road.

He’s apparently the first congressional candidate in history to figure out he can run anywhere he can get on the ballot — federal law says he only has to live in the district if he’s elected.

So he’s going to try any way he can to get elected, Levene said in an interview Friday.

“Running in multiple states is not a gimmick, it’s a means to an end,” he said. “You can only fix problems if you have a vote — if you don’t have a vote, you’re just noise.”

And he says it’s crucial, life or death for the Republic, that he get into office so he can stop the economic collapse he sees looming.

“This country is falling apart, and it is so easy to fix,” said Levene, 66, a British native and naturalized citizen who is passionate about the freedom and opportunity in his adopted country but says wrongheaded government is bringing the nation down.

Here’s the beginning of a 2014 Politico story on Levene’s efforts then (both unsuccessful):

Allan Levene is what you might call a way outside-the-Beltway candidate. That’s not just because he is British-born and grew up in West Ham, on London’s dodgy East End, playing in the rubble of bombed-out buildings leveled by the Blitz. Or because he’s running for Congress in Hawaii’s 1st congressional district, 5,000 miles away from Washington. It’s also because Levene is running for Congress in Georgia’s 11th district (where he lives) and tried to mount runs from Minnesota’s 6th, Michigan’s 8th and Michigan’s 14th districts—all in the same election cycle.

Watson won’t challenge Fleishmann in 2016

State Senate Speaker Pro Tem Bo Watson, R-Hixson, has shelved the idea of challenging U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga in the 2016 election, reports the Times-Free Press.

“I sure hadn’t announced anything, so that’s a pretty good indicator,” said Watson, who earlier this year weighed a potential challenge. “I really enjoy doing what I’m doing right now.”

His post as vice chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee and chairman of the panel’s budget subcommittee “allows me to be a real participant in the process and, I think, make a significant difference in what we’re doing in Tennessee,” Watson said.

In an earlier interview, Fleischmann said he had not yet heard from the state lawmaker on his intentions.

“We have always been good friends,” said Fleischmann. He added that if a challenge does come, his campaign is “much better prepared than we have been in the past” with a “fiscally sound” war chest of some $900,000.

“We’ve continued to do the thing we have been doing, not just on legislation but on constituent service,” he said.

Fleischmann, an attorney from Ooltewah, first ran for Congress in 2010 in a multicandidate GOP slugfest to succeed long-time incumbent Zach Wamp of Chattanooga. He scraped through in a bitter battle with former Tennessee Republican Party Chairwoman Robin Smith, winning 30 percent of the vote to Smith’s 28 and handily taking the general election.

Two Republicans stepped up in the 2012 GOP primary — Weston Wamp, son of the former congressman, and Athens businessman Scottie Mayfield. That, too, was a bitter fight and Fleischmann won with a plurality of 39 percent.

The younger Wamp tried again in 2014 but Fleischmann eked out a primary win by a slim 51-49 percent. Wamp said afterward he wouldn’t challenge Fleischmann in 2016.

Fleischmann banks $800K for reelection campaign

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.”

Chattanooga shootings put Fleischmann in national spotlight

Chattanooga’s U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has been “a low-key, drama-free presence” in Congress, says Michael Collins: But the horrific shootings in his home district propelled him onto the national stage in a way that he never envisioned and never wanted.

CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all wanted interviews. He granted those requests and too many others to count.

Because the scene of the tragedy was in his district, reporters wanted to know anything he could tell them about the shootings, the area, its people. He wanted the world to know about the five men — four Marines and one sailor — who had been gunned down and about how the community was pulling together.

“We came together very quickly and worked day after day and are still working on this,” he said of his friends, neighbors and constituents.

…Leading the (House memorial) observance “was extremely difficult to do,” he said. “I don’t mind telling you that when we finished the floor speech and I went back to my office, I had blurred vision. I was still ill. And I’m still ill over this.”

After the observance ended, many of his colleagues — brothers and sisters of the House, as he calls them — approached him to offer their condolences and urged him to do something else as soon as possible to honor the five victims.

Last week, he filed legislation to award all five the Purple Heart, a military decoration given to service members wounded in combat or awarded posthumously to the next of kin of those killed in action. The bipartisan bill has 75 co-sponsors, and Fleischmann is hoping it will get a vote when Congress returns from its summer break in September.

Fleischmann said he has been deeply touched by the support he has been shown by his House colleagues — Republicans and Democrats alike — since the shootings.

“The five service members who died tragically at the hands of this person who committed this heinous act have been honored and dignified and will be forever cherished by our Chattanooga community,” he said. “Now I know, after having seen the support of my brothers and sisters in the House, they will be honored and cherished forever in America.”

Watson meditates on running against Fleischmann

Excerpt from a Times-Free Press piece on Sen. Bo Watson mulling a run against 3rd District Congressman Chuck Fleischmann:

“There’s a lot to consider,” Watson said last week. “I know that because I drove through [the district]. And it just has some challenges to it.”

Basic considerations include whether Watson believes he can bring something new to the table; how people feel about Fleischmann, who’s faced close contests in his three prior primaries, and the tough task task of taking on an incumbent.

“I’m fairly deliberative and logical, which sometimes gets in the way of the legislative process,” Watson said. “But I don’t just jump in because it’s the popular thing to do or because people are telling me they don’t like somebody for this reason, they don’t like somebody for that reason.

“It would be because I truly believe I could be effective, No. 1, and because I could make a significant difference beyond what Chuck has been able to do.”

And, he added, “I’m not where I could actually, honestly say that. And then, if I could and I do believe that, then at the end of the day it ultimately comes down to, can you raise the necessary resources. Because if an incumbent raises a million, you’re going to have to raise $1.5 million. You just are.”

…Fleischmann said he and Watson had “a good sit-down” at the Tennessee Valley Corridor conference. “Sat down and had a great time. He’s a friend.”

After two slim primary victories in 2012 and 2014, Fleischmann said, “the best way for me to get re-elected, to win Republican primaries and then the general, is just to go out and do my job every day.”

“Even my past primary opponents never really had either a philosophical difference with me or hit me on my voting record,” Fleischmann continued.

Bo Watson considers challenge to Fleischmann in 3rd Congressional District

According to several Chattanooga-based Republicans speaking with the Times-Free Press, state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, is seriously weighing a GOP primary challenge to Fleischmann.

And Watson, 54, isn’t denying it.

“I have people encourage me all the time,” Watson told the Times Free Press last week when asked if he is running. “I don’t rule that out. … I think every election cycle you look at what opportunities might come up.””

Watson noted “we’re still in session here” in the Tennessee General Assembly. “And this is what my responsibility is and so that’s what I’m focused on.”

The legislative session is expected to adjourn toward the end of April.

One helpful thing for Watson: He can run without having to give up his state Senate seat. He was elected to a third four-year term last year and won’t face re-election until 2018.

Should Watson run, Fleischmann would be facing his fourth seriously contested primary in the 11-county district, which stretches from Chattanooga up north through Oak Ridge.

In an emailed statement Friday, Fleischmann spokesman Tyler Threadgill said the congressman is paying attention to constituents’ interests in the U.S. House. Last week, he said, the House “passed the first real entitlement reform in decades and a taxpayer friendly budget.”

“The Congressman is going to keep doing the job he was elected to do,” Threadgill said. “I’ll let others play in the political rumor mill.”

Fleischmann has never had an easy race in the district. As a political newcomer in 2010, he narrowly won a bitterly fought, six-person contest with Robin Smith, a former Tennessee Republican Party chairman, as his main rival.

Fleischmann, Headrick spar in 3rd District debate

In their debate Monday, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Democratic challenger Mary Headrick agreed that a U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Chattanooga should remain open, reports the Times-Free Press. But not on much else.

The two tackled issues ranging from sending U.S. troops to Iraq, health care reform, abortion law, veterans affairs and the fate of the nation’s post.

Fleischmann said he agreed with President Barack Obama’s recent decision to send support to moderate Sunni forces in Iraq, and the decision to begin airstrikes against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State. But Fleischmann said he’s not prepared to commit troops to the fighting.

Headrick agreed that the U.S. must fight ISIS, but giving resources to “undefined allies” without a clear objective was folly.

“We do need to fight ISIS, they are a dreadful force, and there are others who are also dreadful. But we need to fight them in our own time,” she said. “Right now, we cannot define our enemy, nor can we define our reliable long term ally.”

With regard to health care reform, in particular the Affordable Care Act. The candidates could not be further apart.

Fleischmann called the ACA “a disaster” and criticized Democrats for using a majority in the legislature to pass the bill before it was vetted thoroughly. Although Fleischmann did not offer any specific replacement to so-called Obamacare, he said states, insurance companies and physicians should come together and develop a system that would allow the free market to work.

Headrick, a 30-year physician, said the patient protection aspects of the ACA, such as doing away with exclusions for pre-existing health conditions or denying insurance to people who are ill, have been largely successful. And she blamed many perceived failings of the bill in Tennessee on the state’s move not to expand its TennCare program.

Perhaps the most stark difference between the two candidates is their stances on abortion.

Fleischmann said during the debate he would like to see abortion outlawed federally, saying the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which protected abortion rights of women, was “flawed precedent then and its flawed precedent now.”

Headrick’s remarks were simple.

“I trust women. They are very careful in this very serious and sad decision when they have to make it. I trust women,” she said.

3rd quarter fundrising in 3rd Congressional District: Fleischmann $243K, Headrick $65K

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has out-spent and out-raised his Democratic opponent, Mary Headrick, reports the Chattanooga TFP. But Headrick says money isn’t everything, and she hopes people can change more minds than campaign dollars in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District.

Campaigns for federal candidates filed October quarterly reports Wednesday ahead of the Nov. 4 general election to show how much money they had raised and spent between July 1 and Sept. 30.

…Fleischmann’s campaign raised $243,075 this quarter, according to a news release. And after spending nearly $500,000, the Ooltewah Republican has $92,348 ahead of the general election.

Campaign spokesman Brian O’Shaughnessy said Fleischmann’s team was pleased with the response from supporters.

“We are proud to have raised $243,075 this quarter, and thank all those who generously contributed to the Chuck Fleischmann for Congress campaign,” O’Shaughnessy said. “These contributions reflect an outstanding amount of support and confidence behind our congressman.”

Meanwhile, the Headrick campaign is working with smaller numbers — but still raising and spending.

Headrick’s camp started the quarter with $45,455 and raised another $66,474, according to an estimate from the campaign Wednesday.

Headrick said the numbers were estimates, because her treasurer was still compiling the reports and Headrick had not decided how much would be reimbursed this quarter.

After spending $45,983 — without reimbursements — Headrick had $65,936 in the bank Wednesday. She said that number could be closer to $55,000 by the time the report was filed.