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.
Former U.S. Rep. Rep. Zach Wamp tells the Chattanooga Times-Free Press that his successor’s second term success hinges on solving the district’s biggest infrastructure puzzle — the Chickamauga lock. In an interview, Wamp praised Fleischmann for making the 72-year-old lock “an important priority,” but said he hopes his successor “exerts more leadership” in maintaining the old lock and finishing a partially completed replacement.
“If you don’t,” Wamp said, “then the Congress is twiddling their thumbs while Rome burns.” Engineers, businessmen and politicians for years have considered the Chickamauga lock replacement the area’s most important federal project.
But Wamp — whose 25-year-old son unsuccessfully challenged Fleischmann in the GOP primary in August — sees conflicts between an ambitious plan to fix the lock advanced by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and a political pledge Fleischmann and other congressional Republicans signed to keep taxes low.
Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann on Tuesday confirmed he won’t debate Dr. Mary Headrick again in Tennessee’s 3rd District race, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Fleischmann campaign spokesman Tyler Threadgill cited his boss’s “full schedule” before Election Day and said the congressman met a single-debate promise when he squared off against Headrick at a lightly attended forum in Bradley County.
But that’s not enough for the Democratic challenger in a district that includes 10 other counties and 692,000 residents.
“It’s so unfair he won’t debate,” Headrick said. “What can I do if he won’t? Spend every dollar I get.”
Records show Headrick, a physician from Maynardville, bought $13,983 in advertising time on two Chattanooga television networks at the beginning of October. Between then and Election Day, that translates to 91 commercials on the city’s ABC and NBC affiliates.
The ads are slated for news and game shows. Headrick is planning a similar buy at Chattanooga’s CBS affiliate, and she’s already running about $8,000 worth of 30-second cable ads throughout the 3rd District, which snakes from Chattanooga to the Kentucky border.
Chattanooga area Democratic nominees slammed their Republican opponents for skipping a Tuesday night political event that focused on the redistribution of wealth, reports the Times Free-Press. In her opening statement at a forum sponsored by the Brainerd Unity Group, Dr. Mary Headrick, the Democratic nominee in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, said Republican policies are helping “disintegrate” the nation’s middle class. She said reducing military funding and demanding more revenue from “the 1 percent” would result in a fairer tax code for all Americans.
But ultimately, the Maynardville acute care physician drew attention to the absence of U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, the freshman Republican incumbent she’s trying to oust.
“As with the others, my opponent is not here to address you,” Headrick said. “Which I think is a disservice to the voters. I think you need to see us standing side by side and answering the same questions.”
Fleischmann will debate Headrick on Monday in Bradley County, but other Democratic challengers without a sparring partner Tuesday night are unlikely to get the same opportunity before Election Day on Nov. 6.
News release from Mary Headrick campaign:
Endorsing Dr. Mary Headrick, Marilyn Lloyd, Congresswoman for the Third District for 20 years (1975-1995), said “I wholeheartedly support Dr. Headrick’s positions to increase the minimum wage, combat job outsourcing, defend public education, protect social security and Medicare and to seek fair taxation.”
Representative Lloyd recalled with pride introducing the Obed River into the Wild and Scenic River program. She and Dr. Headrick share admiration for the beauty of Tennessee and applaud its tourism.
Dr. Mary Headrick is the Democratic candidate for the third Congressional District facing incumbent Representative Chuck Fleischmann.
Mary Headrick will meet voters at the Eastgate Center, 5PM Tuesday Oct 2, a meeting sponsored by the Unity Group. She will attend the forum of the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge High School 7PM,Thursday Oct 4.
Dr. Headrick and Representative Fleischmann will face one another at Cleveland Middle School, 3635 Georgetown Rd, Cleveland on Monday, Oct. 8, 6:30 PM for a 1 hour debate that is open to the public.
Mr. Fleischmann’s campaign office has refused or made no reply to other forum and debate invitations. Dr. Headrick said “The voters deserve to see the opponents appear together to answer their questions and summarize positions. It is a disservice to the voters when Mr. Fleischmann avoids debates or when Representative DesJarlais refuses to debate Eric Stewart.”
Chris Carroll has collected some comments — or non-comments — from Tennessee Republicans on Mitt Romney’s belief that nearly half the nation is “dependent upon the government.” Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Bob Corker, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Rep. Scott DesJarlais declined interview requests Thursday, sidestepping whether they agree with the Republican presidential nominee’s comment that 47 percent of Americans consider themselves “victims” who feel they’re “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
…”Having come from humble roots, Chuck Fleischmann understands that many of those receiving government benefits would prefer to be working,” Fleischmann spokesman Alek Vey said in a prepared statement that also characterized “handouts” as “ultimately detrimental to the success of the American people.”
…”I hope to have the opportunity to work with him to put the issue in the rearview mirror and put our focus back on being a great country in all ways,” Corker said in a statement.
At the state level, Gov. Bill Haslam distanced himself from Romney’s remarks, which included a prediction that the 47 percent “will vote for this president no matter what.” The governor described Romney’s comments as “political calculus.”
“He made a statement about, ‘Hey, it might be hard to win some folks’ votes,'” Haslam said at a news briefing Wednesday. “I think our response within government obviously is to care about everyone.”
Haslam serves as state chairman of Romney’s Tennessee campaign, but said “I’m not on the inside strategy of the campaign.”
On the other hand, this from the Kingsport Times-News: U.S. Rep. Phil Roe predicted Thursday that GOP challenger Mitt Romney will still win the presidency despite Romney’s “47 percent” remark about Americans who support incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama because they are dependent upon government.
“I might have stated it a little differently, but … we’ve got 105 million people who receive some (welfare) transfer payment…”
Democratic congressional candidate Dr. Mary Headrick says she would support a barge fuel tax increase to finance repair and construction at Chickamauga lock, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. “The Chickamauga lock should be replaced,” she said in a statement. “Until replaced, it should be repaired and remain in operation. … I favor increasing the marine diesel fuel per gallon tax, as favored by barge operators.”
In doing so, the Maynardville, Tenn., Democrat and acute care physician defied her opponent, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who has rejected a barge tax increase from 20 cents to 29 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. But the freshman Republican has opposed tax increases of any kind, partially owing to a political pledge he signed.
Fleischmann’s opposition has also put him at odds with members of the barge industry who have expressed a willingness to pay more taxes if it translates to consistent maintenance and quicker replacement.
Funding has dried up on both fronts, and the lock continues to deteriorate as a chemical reaction weakens its bulky concrete frame. The structure allows barges to move through TVA’s dam system toward 318 miles of upstream Tennessee River water.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann holds an 8-to-1 fundraising lead over his Democratic challenger, Dr. Mary Headrick, reports Chris Carroll. “Publish that number — let Chuck Fleischmann put his guard down,” Headrick said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Let him think I’m not going to do any TV ads or any big things. Let him relax and think he’s got it won.”
A conservative freshman congressman who fended off a popular dairy executive and a political scion in August’s Republican primary, Fleischmann reported $106,075 in general election contributions through July 13. Very little of that has been spent.
Meanwhile, Headrick said she has about $13,000 in the bank with two months before the Nov. 6 election.
“That’s 13 with three zeroes,” said Headrick, an acute-care physician whose top campaign goal is ridding politics of money’s influence. “Not four zeroes or five zeroes.”
…But Headrick is challenging the conventional wisdom, banking on a grass-roots strategy that leaves almost no room for the big bucks.
“Everyone says I can’t win this on $100,000, but that’s what I think it should cost,” she said. “If it costs a lot more than that, it’s prohibitive for everyday people who want to make a change.”
With upcoming fundraisers aimed at teachers and union workers, Headrick hopes to become financially competitive. But the already substantial donation gulf could widen if Fleischmann’s team approaches donors to his Republican primary opponents, Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp, who raised $1.4 million between them in a shared quest for Congress.
“We took a breather after the election, and the [Republican National Convention] kept us busy,” Fleischmann campaign manager Tyler Threadgill said, “but we’ll be ramping up soon.”
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann strongly disagrees with recent comments made by a Missouri colleague over the improbability of rape victims getting pregnant, but the Chattanooga Republican remains a staunch abortion opponent, according to the Chattanooga TFP. “Chuck believes the comment made by Congressman [Todd] Akin was flat-out wrong and not factual,” Fleischmann spokesman Jordan Powell said in an email Thursday.
However, Powell said, Fleischmann “voted to prevent taxpayer funds from being used for abortion-related costs, and will continue to stand for the sanctity of human life every time he has the chance.”
…Fleischmann’s Democratic opponent in the 3rd Congressional District, Dr. Mary Headrick, rejected Akin’s original statement that women who are victims of violent rape can’t get pregnant as “ludicrous.”
Headrick, a Maynardville, Tenn., physician who practices internal medicine in a rural setting, said she is often called to administer rape kits to possible victims because women and teens feel more comfortable with a female physician.
While emphasizing she had not read the original bill in its entirety, Headrick strongly objected to the phrase “forcible rape.”
“That’s outrageous,” Headrick said. “I’ve had 14-year-olds who have been impregnated by 23-year-olds and that’s rape. It doesn’t matter if she was consenting.”
Headrick said you “have to presume that when a female is underage she doesn’t know how to avoid the sexual activity and you leave her alone. It’s rape. And that adjective ‘forcible’ is just infuriating.”
U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Chuck Fleischmann said today they did not participate in or witness a late-night swim in Israel last year in which one lawmaker disrobed and jumped into the Sea of Galilee and others shed some of their clothing to go frolicking in the water.
Ditto with Rep. Stephen Fincher: “It was unfortunate that the behavior of some folks was not acceptable,” Fincher said Monday. “While this was going on, I was doing one of my favorite things — having dinner with my wife. More HERE.
Further on the DesJarlais/Fleischmann fromt from Michael Collins.
Both East Tennessee lawmakers were on the fact-finding trip to Israel with other freshman members of Congress and their families. But they said they did not participate in the questionable swim, which, according to a published report, may have been fueled by alcohol consumption and led to an FBI inquiry.
“While the congressman was on the trip to Israel reinforcing our nation’s relationship with this important ally, he was not involved in the incident in question,” said DesJarlais’ spokesman, Robert Jameson.
Asked if the Jasper Republican had witnessed the activity, Jameson said, “The congressman did not see the incident.”