If Scottie Mayfield wins Tennessee’s 3rd District congressional race, he would be the first non-Chattanoogan to capture the post since the 1890s, observes Chris Carroll.
With that in mind, some of the Scenic City’s public officials have wondered whether the dairy executive would keep Chattanooga’s congressional office or open an office closer to his Athens, Tenn., home.
The answer may be both.
In an interview Saturday at the opening of his Chattanooga campaign headquarters, Mayfield smiled, hesitated and said he hadn’t considered the congressional office question. First, he said, he must beat U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and two others in the Aug. 2 Republican primary before squaring off against the Democratic nominee in November.
“It’s a cart-before-the-horse issue,” he said.
But in a subsequent conversation amid chatty supporters and coolers bursting with Mayfield milk and lemonade, he said he would keep a Chattanooga office “for sure,” adding that he might establish an Athens office “for my own convenience.” Mayfield also said he would staff an office near Oak Ridge, where numerous U.S. Department of Energy programs are housed.
GOP candidates U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp scheduled 663 political ads between June 21 and Tuesday on local affiliates for ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, a review by Chris Carroll indicates.
While that may seem like a lot — more than 50 ads a day for two weeks across four channels — saturation and style vary for the Republicans seeking Tennessee’s 3rd District seat.
And it’s only the beginning.
Fleischmann is airing 220 repetitions of two ads within the 13-day span, while Wamp is rotating his own trio 352 times in the same timeframe. Mayfield bought time for 91 spots in six days from WDEF, WDSI, WRCB and WTVC, records show.
Expenditures for local broadcast ads tell only part of the story, since each candidate is doing some combination of cable, radio and Internet advertising throughout a district that extends from Chattanooga through Oak Ridge and all the way up to the Kentucky border.
But local television advertising numbers are one way to quantify how much the candidates are spending to reach the 3rd District’s largest consolidated group of voters — Hamilton County residents.
As required by law, each TV station allowed the Chattanooga Times Free Press to examine political ad buys. All told, the Republican field has spent at least $131,826 since Wamp became the first 3rd District GOP candidate to hit the airwaves on June 14.
Democrats in the race, meanwhile, have purchased $812.50 of television advertising, records show. That money bought time for Bill Taylor, a Chattanooga businessman, whose outreach has consisted of four, four-second spots touting his support for the Second Amendment. They aired during the Belmont Stakes horse race June 9.
Republican Scottie Mayfield, running for the 3rd Congressional District nomination,says he thinks that giving voters ice cream — Mayfield brand, paid for by the campaign, naturally — is a better way to communicate than participating in debates.
His comments are part of a Georgiana Vines overview story on the congressional campaign. Mayfield, who has declined to participate in debates, also says he would never have run had not redistricting moved his McMinn County home out of the 2nd District, whre Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. is the incumbent — not Chuck Fleischmann.
“I would not want to replace him (Duncan(. I think he is doing a good job,” Mayfield said in an interview in Knoxville on Wednesday. When the district changed, “a door opened for me,” he said.
He responded to criticism for not attending the debates in Chattanooga by saying that he didn’t think they would prove differences between the candidates.
…”I’ve watched the presidential debates. They are so divisive. I don’t think the candidates say a great deal,” he said. He also didn’t want to become divisive himself, he said.
Pointing to a flyer listing his positions on seven issues, he said all of the Republican candidates with a few word changes seem the same with one exception — term limits. He favors members of the House and Senate each serving 12 years, he said.
…While not attending the tea party debate, Mayfield said he went to two other events in the district in Polk and Campbell counties and reached 600 people — more than attended the debate.
He said he prefers to have the opportunity to meet with people one-on-one, find out what they’re interested in and listen. Often, initially, they’re a little standoffish, he said.
“Give them some ice cream and they settle in and get comfortable,” he said. “People like ice cream.”
Weston Wamp did everything but call U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann a lightweight Saturday as he reacted to court documents showing the freshman congressman didn’t always approve campaign ads in his successful 2010 race, reports Chris Carroll.
“I can’t even connect with a candidate who isn’t in charge of his own operation,” Wamp said Saturday after a Chattanooga Tea Party debate heavy on agreement among most of the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary field. “I look at TV commercials as my opportunity to say exactly what I want to share with people on my own terms.”
Meanwhile, Fleischmann said voters “aren’t concerned” about depositions that appear to discredit portions of a 2010 attack ad charging that opponent and former state GOP chairwoman Robin Smith paid a top aide “lavish bonuses” at a financially difficult time for the party. He also shrugged off testimony showing that his former campaign consultant and now chief of staff, Chip Saltsman, failed to authenticate documents used in his ads.
“The people of the 3rd District overwhelmingly are concerned about jobs, the economy, the debt, the issues I’ve been addressing for them as an effective congressman for 18 months,” Fleischmann said. “Politically motivated lawsuits are probably on the last of their wish list.”
The candidates were serious, but a bit of political theater lightened the mood.
Fleischmann, Wamp and Ron Bhalla sat on stools for the debate. Dairy executive Scottie Mayfield was absent, but on a fourth stool, tea party officials placed a half-gallon Mayfield milk jug with a yellow bowtie draped over its neck.
It was the second major candidate forum Mayfield shunned. He has characterized debates as events where people “have already made up their minds” about elections.
“He could easily win, and it’s a shame,” Chattanooga Tea Party member and debate moderator Gregg Juster said.
A Mayfield spokesman did not return a call requesting comment.
Third District Congressional candidate Scottie Mayfield’s company has profited from federal government contracts, as previously posted, inspiring Charlie Daniel.
Like many Republicans campaigning for smaller government, congressional candidate Scottie Mayfield routinely criticizes the federal bureaucracy and what he calls “Washington’s outrageous spending.”
But Chris Carroll reports that Mayfield appears content with at least one of Uncle Sam’s recurring expenses — federal contracts to the family dairy.
Since 2000, Mayfield Dairy Farms LLC has received more than $7.5 million from 47 government contracts and transactions, federal records show. The Department of Defense awarded 37 of those contracts and 99 percent of the money.
…Overall since 2000, Dean Foods Co., Mayfield Dairy Farms’ parent company, has received more than $306 million from more than 7,000 government contracts for its many subsidiaries, according to federal databases and company records.
About 58 percent of Dean’s contracts were not competitively bid, government databases show.
“Information on relationships with our customers, beyond what we disclose in our filings, is proprietary,” said Liliana Esposito, a Dean spokeswoman.
Mayfield’s history as a government contractor doesn’t end at the federal level. Since 2007, Tennessee has paid more than $175,000 directly to Mayfield Dairy Farms. Databases don’t identify a clear purpose for the state contracts, but most of the federal contracts are for milk, eggs and juice on military bases and in prisons.
By its very nature, the government must contract for goods and services it doesn’t have the time or means to produce. But one 3rd District observer said Mayfield’s experience as a government breadwinner puts him on the wrong side of his own rhetoric.
“It makes it a little more challenging to sell the ‘small government’ pitch,” said Chattanooga Tea Party spokesman Brendan Jennings. “He might have trouble with that.”
Scottie Mayfield promised Thursday to serve no more than 10 years if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making a pledge his top opponents recently refused or evaded, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
Mayfield campaign spokesman Joe Hendrix said his boss decided to address term limits after reflecting on prior conversations with members of Congress.
“They told him they’d like to support certain legislation or initiatives, but choose not to vote for [them] because it would hurt their re-election,” Hendrix said. “Having term limits … creates the opportunity to vote for what the member believes is right.”
…Fleischmann is seeking his second term. In a May 21 debate, he avoided a direct question about a term-limits pledge, saying that elections every two years already make House members accountable to voters.
Weston Wamp, another Republican challenging Fleischmann, said at the debate that he would not make a term-limits pledge.
“I will serve in Congress as long as I am passionate about waking up every morning and doing the people’s work,” he said.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
ATHENS, Tenn. — A smiling cardboard cutout of Scottie Mayfield gives visitors a chance to pose with the longtime pitchman for the dairy founded by and named after his family. If only campaigning for Congress were so easy.
Mayfield and Weston Wamp, the 25-year-old son of a former incumbent, are challenging freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann for the Republican nomination in the state’s 3rd District. All three candidates have amassed sizable campaign accounts, setting up what is expected to be a heavy ad campaign in the Chattanooga and Knoxville television markets.
Mayfield’s strategy depends heavily on his name and face recognition built over decades as the bow-tied company spokesman in print and TV ads. His campaign signs use a brown and yellow color scheme similar to the branding on the milk and ice cream products labeled “Mayfield” that 3rd District voters are used to seeing in their refrigerators.
But Mayfield’s feel-good bid took a hit when his 33-year-old son was charged in April with slashing the tire of Fleischmann staffer following a campaign bus. Mayfield apologized, but the embarrassment was enhanced when the Chattanooga Times Free Press revealed that the Kingston police chief moved the younger Mayfield’s scheduled court date from May to after the Aug. 2 primary.
Meanwhile, Mayfield has struggled to explain why voters should choose him over Fleischmann, with whom he shares many policy positions.
Two Republican candidates for the 3rd Congressional District, Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp, have declined to sign a pledge to never raise taxes, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has signed the pledge, along with all other Republican members of the Tennessee congressional delegation — indeed, almost all Republicans in Congress nationwide.
“I’ve been asked if I would sign the pledge to not increase taxes — my plan is to not sign any pledges,” Mayfield recently told a local Republican group, according to video obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “I want to be in a position to vote the way you want me to vote, and I think pledges get in [the] way.”
Created by conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, the anti-tax pledge bears no binding legal authority, but its popularity soared as the tea party movement picked up steam in the 2010 election cycle.
Signers are implored to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and businesses.” It also asks signers to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched “dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”
…Like Mayfield, Wamp has said he won’t sign the pledge. His first policy offensive against Fleischmann came in February when the congressman voted to extend a popular payroll tax cut for 10 months. Wamp said the vote would result in a $90 billion increase in the deficit.
“Common sense says that’s it’s not fiscally responsible to increase the national debt, and the people of the 3rd District know that,” said Wamp, 25, whose platform focuses on advocating for what he calls “the debt-paying generation.”
At the debate, Fleischmann said he voted for the tax cut to save “the people’s money,” but he omitted his usual demands for a slimmer deficit — a priority that, by its very nature, butts heads with calls for ever-lower taxes.
Republican congressional candidate Scottie Mayfield called Medicaid recipients “non-taxpayers” in a position paper released Wednesday. The Chattanooga Times-Free Press says that’s not necessarily so.
“Social Security and Medicare are programs we’ve promised to older Americans and they are entitled to them,” Mayfield wrote. “Medicaid is not an entitlement. Welfare is not an entitlement. These and many other programs are charity, taking from one taxpayer and giving to a non-taxpayer.”
The paper omits two facts — that some have jobs and collect paychecks with regular deductions for Social Security, Medicare and other government-funded programs, and that all Medicaid enrollees who live in Tennessee pay state sales tax every time they buy groceries.
Records show that 1.2 million Tennesseans are enrolled in TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program for poor, elderly and disabled residents. TennCare spokeswoman Kelly Gunderson said she could not provide a firm percentage or number of enrollees with jobs.
“But I can confirm with you that, yes, there are members of our program that are employed,” Gunderson said.