Tag Archives: 3rd District

Bipartisan Fleischmann appears on stage with Headrick

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann struck a different tone Thursday when sharing the stage with his Democratic rival, Mary Headrick, and others at a candidate forum, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

Along with Fleischmann and Headrick, U.S. Senate candidate Gordon Ball, a Democrat challenging Sen. Lamar Alexander, and state House District 27 candidates, Republican Patsy Hazlewood and her Democratic opponent Eric Mcroy, shared their views with the nearly full auditorium

Fleischmann’s pitch Thursday was a far cry from the hard-line partisan stance he took during the Republican primary. Multiple times he stressed the importance of working across the aisle and praised “great debate” in the nation’s capitol.

This was also the Ooltewah Republican’s first local campaign event without longtime political operative Chip Saltsman in his corner.

“The things that divide us are really minimal. I’ve seen it first hand — we come together as a House, as a Senate and as a nation to deal with crisis,” Fleischmann said.

Outside of the general tone, Fleischmann continued to tout some of the same points he used before the Aug. 7 primary — his role in restructuring the Chickamauga Lock and getting Erlanger Health System connected to federal funding.

“I rolled up my sleeves, went to work for our senators and went to work with all nine of our representatives. Our Republicans and Democrats came together and got work done,” Fleischmann said.

… “I maintain that the strength of our county depends on a strong middle class,” Headrick said. “Our representatives have made decisions harmful to the middle class, but benefited special interests and big donors to campaigns,” Headrick said.

After criticizing Citizen’s United, a Supreme Court decision that she said opened the door for letting “dark money” into political campaigns by allowing corporations to contribute as people, Headrick said she was running for Congress to support social safety nets, public education, reduced interest rates for student loans and an increased minimum wage.

“I don’t think our government needs to be run like a business,” she said. “It needs to be a good service. And when we gouge our college students with a high interest rate, you are running it like business, not a good service.”

… Ball spent is 10 minutes answering criticism from the Alexander campaign, and went on to speak against Common Core school curriculum and echoed Headrick’s stance on college loans.

“If we can bail out Wall Street, surely to God we can bail out our kids,” Ball said.

The event was not a debate and no questions were accepted from the floor.

Fleischmann, Saltsman part ways

After an uncomfortably tight primary victory, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has severed ties with longtime political adviser and ally Chip Saltsman, according to the Chattanooga TFP.

And the Tennessee Republican faces another round of questions from the Federal Election Commission over finance reporting.

Saltsman has been with Fleischmann since his 2010 congressional bid, in which he edged out former Republican Party Chairwoman Robin Smith in an aggressive primary campaign and later won the general election. Saltsman also served as Fleischmann’s chief of staff during much of the Ooltewah Republican’s first two terms and ran his 2012 re-election bid. After leaving Fleischmann’s congressional staff last year, Fleischmann’s campaign has paid Saltsman’s consulting firm, S & S Strategies, $25,000, according to campaign finance filings.

But now, the Fleischmann campaign says Saltsman is completely out.

“He’s been a valued member since Chuck first started running, and we recognize that. But the short answer is: No, he is no longer involved in the campaign,” campaign adviser Brian O’Shaughnessy said Thursday.

…After receiving several notices from the FEC over inaccurate or inappropriate contributions during the primary, Fleischmann’s camp has been hit again with 10 findings involving $12,300 in excessive or illegal campaign contributions, and $37,056 in incorrectly reported disbursements.

According to FEC filings, some of Fleischmann’s supporters appear to have given more than they are allowed by law, some corporate contributions were illegal, and Fleischmann’s campaign moved money from one election to the other without following election law.

The filings also show Fleischmann’s camp did not provide full information for the payments it made. Many of the $37,056 in distributions were for campaign aides and political strategy groups — $13,000 of which went to Saltsman’s S & S Strategies.

In an email Friday, O’Shaughnessy said the campaign was working through the filings and described them as “routine.”

Flesichmann agrees to debate Democratic opponent

Voters in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District will get to see their congressional candidates debate after all, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

U.S. Rep Chuck Fleischmann says he will debate Mary Headrick, the Democratic challenger seeking to keep him from returning to Washington, D.C., for a third term.

Brian O’Shaughnessy, a spokesman for Fleischmann, said Thursday the Ooltewah Republican would make good on a primary promise to debate Headrick.

“We will debate Ms. Headrick here in Hamilton County. The congressman looks forward to it,” O’Shaughnessy said.

The televised debate will take place and air live at 8 p.m. EDT on Oct. 27. It will be produced by WTCI, the local PBS affiliate, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The two organizations hosted a similar debate for the Republican primary in July.

Headrick said she had hoped Fleischmann would agree to a date before Oct. 15 — the start of early voting — but she will take what she can get.

“As my campaign manager said, ‘We’ll just have to work harder,'” Headrick said in an email Friday.

Having the debate close to the election could be a boon for Fleischmann, who has the incumbency, a war chest and conservative credentials on his side, according to Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor for Vanderbilt University.

“When you’ve got a lot more money than your opponent, there’s no reason to give them free visibility. But one way to get away from the idea that you won’t debate your opponent is to have it close to the election. It may minimize damage — if there’s any damage,” Oppenheimer said.

As of July 18, federal election finance reports show Fleischmann had $348,260 on hand after spending more than $902,000 since the start of 2013. Headrick had nothing, after spending $21,268 since November 2012.

Fleishmann not debating Democratic opponent

Republican Congressman Chuck Fleischmann’s senior adviser, Brian O’Shaughnessy, tells the Chattanooga TFP that said the incumbent has not committed to any forums or debates with his Democratic challenger, Mary Headrick, since they shared the stage at a University of Tennessee-Chattanooga forum in July.

One forum was enough, he suggested.

“We were able to hear some of [Headrick’s] positions on different issues at an earlier forum at UTC. It was pretty, ‘It’s their big government versus our small government.’ I don’t think it’s going to be really necessary,” he said.
…O’Shaughnessy said official duties have kept Fleischmann from the campaign trail, but he would be in the district as soon as time allowed.

“With respect to any debates going forward, right now, Chuck is really focused on the ISIS issue as is the rest of the legislature, and he’s kind of out of the campaign trail,” O’Shaunghnessy said.

Headrick said she’s thrown the gauntlet, and if Fleischmann doesn’t pick it up, it will be his own decision. She will attend a forum today in Oak Ridge, along with independent candidate Cassandra Mitchell, but Fleischmann will not be there.

“I will make time anywhere [for a debate]. If it doesn’t happen, it’s Fleischmann’s avoidance,” she said.

Headrick says Fleischmann’s silence will not help him, because the district isn’t as red as some believe.

She said the 3rd District’s middle class is shrinking because of Fleischmann’s politics. She’s campaigning to raise the federal minimum wage, close tax loopholes for the wealthy and improve health care for Americans.

Fleischmann edges Wamp in 3rd District primary

By only about 1,000 votes, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann won his nomination to a new term in Tennessee’s 3rd District Thursday over Republican challenger Weston Wamp.

Unofficial numbers late Thursday showed Fleischmann had 43,830 votes over Wamp’s 42,386, with 94 percent of precincts reporting.

To a room full of supporters chanting “Chuck, Chuck, Chuck,” Fleischmann acknowledged the close numbers, and appealed to Wamp and his supporters forces.

“I want to congratulate Weston on a well-run race. It was a close race, and I hope the Wamps will join me to continue to make the 3rd District better,” Fleischmann said.

Vowing to continue his conservative effort to change the tone in Washington D.C., Fleischmann Republicans need to come together.

“We have got to come together as Americans. There is no doubt in my mind that hte United States has been and will continue to the be the greatest nation the world has ever seen,” he said.

Fleischmann relies on 280 out-of-district donors; Wamp has more in-district donors

While incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has raised more money than challenger Weston Wamp in the 3rd District Republican primary, many of the incumbent’s donors can’t vote to re-elect him, reports the Chattanooga TFP after some number-crunching.

Most of Fleischmann’s donors are doctors, lawyers, bankers and political operatives — traditional Republican campaign contributors — but the majority come from outside the state’s 3rd Congressional District or are political action committees, considered people for the purposes of campaign funding, but not for voting.

The 11-county district comprises Anderson, Bradley, Campbell, Hamilton, McMinn, Monroe, Morgan, Polk, Roane, Scott and Union counties.

The Ooltewah Republican’s first- and second quarter and pre-primary campaign finance reports show that 206 of his contributors lived in the district. The remaining 280 donors were people who lived in or around Washington D.C.; Texas; New York and other areas outside the 3rd District or were PACs.

Those donors have given Fleischmann $1.2 million since Jan. 1, 2013 — $699,952 from people, and $529,183 from political action committees.

He has spent $902,000 battling Wamp this cycle.

Wamp, on the other hand, has raised his money almost entirely in the 3rd District. The son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp hit the campaign trail hard, spending three nights a week on the road.

Wamp’s campaign finance reports show that 388 contributors were district residents and 34 lived outside the district. Wamp also received money from two Republican leadership PACs.

From a pool of tow-truck operators, entrepreneurs and diner owners — and a handful of politically connected family friends — Wamp was able to garner $584,860. Of that, $4,000 was PAC money.

Wamp has spent $501,699 ahead of the primary, according to reports.

Vanderbilt public policy professor Bruce Oppenheimer says Fleischmann has a lot of money, and Wamp may have some grassroots support, but neither candidate can rest easy until Aug. 7.

Typically, he said, the candidate with the most money wins the primary. But this race may not go that way, Oppenheimer said.

Wamp’s cadre of in-district individual donors don’t necessarily mean the majority of residents will vote for him. And members of PACs who supported Fleischmann may live in the district, Oppenheimer said.

But Wamp has pulled more than $500,000 from supporters — and his campaign has been helped by a $300,000 independent PAC contribution made by his boss, Lamp Post Group founder Allan Davis. Also, Fleischmann has been filling the airwaves with attack ads, a negative with many voters. Oppenheimer said all those elements give Wamp more of a chance than he normally would have against a two-term incumbent.

Fleischmann bashes Wamp; Wamp bashes Fleischmann

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann’s campaign is launching its fourth television attack ad in about two weeks against Republican challenger Weston Wamp today, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

The ad, set to run in the Chattanooga and Knoxville markets, criticizes Wamp’s involvement in an insurance brokerage company launched by Wamp’s employer that connects clients with Affordable Care Act health plans.

“Weston is founding director of a company invested in Obamacare. Why would he criticize the president when Obama is making him money?” the Fleischmann ad asks.

Meanwhile, Wamp has a new TV spot, too. It bashes Fleischmann for flooding the airwaves with political attacks.

“So Chuck Fleischmann’s running negative TV ads … again. But we’re not slowing down. There’s too much to get done, and right now, nobody’s doing it,” the Wamp ad script says.

Wamp works for Lamp Post Group, a startup incubator in Chattanooga that has helped fund and launch dozens of companies. He consults with startup companies on marketing and press strategies.

The new Fleischmann ad seeks to convince conservative voters that Wamp would not oppose President Barack Obama or the ACA because one of those companies is American Exchange. The Chattanooga-based insurance brokerage group makes its money by connecting people with subsidized health insurance made possible by the health care law.

A review of the Fleischmann-Wamp squabbe in 3rd Congressional District

Excerpt from a Michael Collins sizeup of the Republican primary battle between U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Weston Wamp for the 3rd Congressional District seat:

In debates, campaign commercials and news interviews, Fleischmann and his aides have sought to portray Wamp as a Democrat masquerading as a Republican, someone who advocates an immigration policy to the left of Nancy Pelosi and who will spend his time in Washington kissing up to President Barack Obama.

In turn, Wamp has tried to paint Fleischmann as Exhibit A in his indictment of what’s wrong with Washington, someone who cares primarily about protecting his own self-interests, has accomplished nothing and refuses to acknowledge that government functions only when Republicans and Democrats work together.

“He’s trying to cling to power, and frankly, it’s very desperate and sad to watch,” said Wamp, the son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, who held the seat before Fleischmann.

The candidates continue to pummel each other as the campaign heads into the final two weeks.

Fleischmann, 51, began airing a TV spot this week in Knoxville and Chattanooga in which former dairy magnate Scottie Mayfield accuses Wamp of lacking “East Tennessee values” and of surreptitiously tape-recording what Mayfield thought was a private conversation with Wamp in his home. Mayfield himself ran for the congressional seat two years ago and placed second — behind Fleischmann, but just ahead of Wamp. He has endorsed Fleischmann this time around.

On Friday, Wamp’s campaign rolled out its own endorsement from former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania conservative who called Wamp “exactly the kind of person we desperately need in Washington right now.” Wamp also is running TV ads in Knoxville and Chattanooga and said he plans to return to all 11 counties in the district before Election Day.

…As for Wamp’s portrayal of him as angry, “there’s no anger,” Fleischmann said. What Wamp is misconstruing as anger is “a sincere passion and love for this country,” Fleischmann said. “That is what drives me every day.”

Whoever wins will face Democrat Mary Headrick in November’s general election. Given that the district leans heavily Republican, the GOP primary winner will almost certainly win this fall.

Fleischmann attack mailer draws complaint from public TV station

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has come under fire from Chattanooga’s public television station for using its logo on a mailer titled “Weston Wamp Supports Amnesty for Illegal Immigration.”

Further from the Chattanooga TFP:

“We are disappointed that the Fleischmann campaign has used our logo on a mailer,” WTCI President and CEO Paul Grove said.

The mailer, paid for by the Chuck Fleischmann for Congress Committee, has an apparently Photoshopped image of a smiling Wamp setting a passport afire with a lighter.

“We need to find a pathway for them (illegal immigrants) to be legal,” is the quote attributed to Wamp on the mailer that was made during a July 2 WTCI/Times Free Press debate. The WTCI logo is next to the quote.

“Chuck Fleischmann for Congress Committee did not seek permission to use WTCI’s logo and it was not granted,” WTCI said in a statement posted Friday on its website. “We’ve asked the organization to withdraw the mailer from circulation and cease to distribute it immediately.”

Conner Ingram, with the Fleischmann campaign, defended the mailer.

“Those are his exact words, and we thought it only appropriate to cite where they came from,” Ingram said. “[The photo of Wamp] is obviously a symbolic caricature to grab the attention of voters about this very important issue.”

Wamp’s campaign manager, Marshall Brock, said the mailer was “so disappointing.”

Mayfield attacks Wamp in TV ad for Fleischmann

Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is aiming his third straight televised punch at GOP challenger Weston Wamp with a new ad, reports the Chattanooga TFP. In it, both men’s 2012 rival, Scottie Mayfield, directly takes Wamp to task over secretly recording him last spring.

In the 30-second spot, airing in the Chattanooga and Knoxville media markets, Mayfield faces the camera, discusses the controversy that publicly erupted last spring and seeks to raise questions about Wamp’s character, trust and “Tennessee values.”

“While I was at home playing with my grandson, Weston Wamp showed up at my doorstep, uninvited, to argue politics and secretly recorded our conversation,” Mayfield says in the ad.

“Now he’s asking for your trust to represent us in Washington?” Mayfield continues. “Those aren’t East Tennessee values. We have a congressman we can trust, who’s pro-life, endorsed by the NRA and not afraid to stand up to Obama.”

Wamp charged in a statement that Fleischmann “has been in office for four years and all he can do is run negative, desperate television ads because he doesn’t have a record to stand on.”

He also said the ads demonstrate Fleischmann “has fallen behind and these negative ads are a desperate attempt to get re-elected.”

Dr. John Geer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor and expert on negative ads, says the Fleischmann’s use of the spots “usually … is a sign that Wamp is somebody he’s worried about.” In 2012, it was a three-man race, Geer noted, and this time it is one on one.