Tag Archives: Wamp

Fleischmann Plays Ball With Democrats (with an assist from Wamp)

Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann says he has avoided much of the social circuit in Washington but discovered a different way to bond in 2011, when he went out for the congressional Republican baseball team and found camaraderie, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
On Thursday at Nationals Park, Fleischmann was the only Tennessean on either team in the annual Dems-versus-GOP showdown — a distinction he’s held for three consecutive years.
“I wanted to be a major league ballplayer growing up,” he said, “so it’s amazing to have fun with everybody — even those on the other side — and play at a big-league park.”
The congressman had some help representing Tennessee and its 3rd District. Before the game, Fleischmann’s eight-term predecessor, former Rep. Zach Wamp, was inducted into the Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame. Heralded for his .500 career batting average and slick shortstop skills, Wamp thanked the fans and threw out the first pitch.
Despite the Chattanooga connection, Wamp and Fleischmann aren’t tight. Wamp’s 26-year-old son Weston unsuccessfully challenged Fleischmann in last year’s Republican primary.
They differ on baseball, too. Wamp is a Braves fan while Fleischmann, a childhood New Yorker, loves the Mets. (Common ground exists, however: Both men said their Tennessee-bred sons cheer for the Braves.)

Bill Haslam, the Teflon Governor?

Andrea Zelinski has a rambling review of Gov. Bill Haslam’s gubernatorial performance, starting with the proposition that he’ has the “Teflon-like qualities” of Bill Clinton and proceeding through quoted commentary from folks including a Democratic operative (it’s not Teflon, it’s an “oil slick”), Zach Wamp, Tom Ingram and Haslam himself.
Excerpts:
Haslam’s colleagues say he researches almost every decision he has to make and seeks out opinions from people in those fields before coming to a conclusion. But other times, those strategies open him up to criticism for being indecisive, lacking backbone or for testing the political waters before making a call.
“I’m sure a lot of people go, ‘Just make up your mind, buddy.’ Or, ‘You’re trying to wait to see where the wind blows,’ etc.,” Haslam told The City Paper.
“I don’t take this job lightly, in the sense I realize it does come with a lot of weight. Sometimes I have the very final say, but oftentimes I can carry a very influential point, and I want to make certain that I’ve thought through that well before we decide where we’re going to push,” he said.
Haslam often takes so much time to decide issues that the controversy has died down and a different issue is front and center, said Ben Cunningham, a spokesman for Tennessee Tax Revolt and an activist with the Nashville Tea Party. While members of his faction are happy with the governor cutting taxes like those on groceries, inheritances and investments, Cunningham said he would like to see the governor be more decisive on issues like opposing Medicaid expansion.
“It’s pretty difficult to really tie him down, because he doesn’t anchor himself down,” Cunningham said. “He does not really inspire great feelings one way or the other, because he doesn’t express great feelings one way or the other.”
…”I would caution anybody who tries to mix issues of the allegations against Pilot right now and the governor. That is a colossal stretch for anyone to try,” said Tom Ingram, a private political consultant for the governor, and also for Jimmy Haslam as he navigates the company through the FBI investigation.
“It energizes people who are looking for something to talk about,” he said. “I think the relevant point a challenger should look at is the governor’s popularity, is the governor’s record, and this governor’s ability, and issues as they specifically relate to this governor. That’s a pretty formidable set of assets going into a campaign.”
…While the question of whether there is more than a tangential tie between the governor and the alleged wrongdoing at Pilot is still unanswered, the investigation is restarting debate about the governor’s refusal to reveal details about how much he has invested in his family’s company.
“I don’t think that Gov. Haslam has anything to do with, personally, the Pilot Oil problems,” said Wamp, who said he has no plans to run for the governor’s office again. “But at the same time, I think people want to know what their executive leaders are involved in financially.”
Haslam’s decision to withhold his income tax returns during his campaign, despite fervent calls from his opponents to show exactly how much he earns from Pilot, didn’t hurt his ability to take the governor’s seat. But Wamp said transparency is still an issue the public needs to think about. The Democratic Party is also beginning to call for the governor to reveal his Pilot-related income.
“In politics, you can overcome a lot of liabilities if you do a good job and if you’re straight with the people,” said Wamp. “I think we’d all like to see more transparency, but I think Gov. Haslam is a very honorable man who is serving our state well.”

Weston Wamp Joins Growing List of Potential DesJarlais Challengers

Weston Wamp, who lives in Hamilton County in the 3rd Congressional District though within sight of Marion County in the 4th Congressional District, and that figures into the possibility of him challenging U.S. Rep. Scott Desjarlais, reports Chris Carroll.
The geography isn’t lost on Wamp as DesJarlais attempts to overcome a scandal that demolished his image as an anti-abortion, family-values doctor. Four days after calling DesJarlais “kind of a creepy guy” on a Chattanooga television show, Wamp said he’s weighing a 4th District Republican primary challenge.
“It’s incredibly early,” said Wamp, 25, in a Wednesday interview. “If anything, this is on the backburner. But I won’t rule anything out. I live a lot closer to most of the 4th District than I do the 3rd District.”
The son of former Congressman Zach Wamp unsuccessfully challenged his father’s immediate successor, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, in this year’s 3rd District Republican primary.
A public relations strategist at the Lamp Post Group in Chattanooga, Wamp joins a host of potential DesJarlais opponents.

Meanwhile, here’s the Tennessee Journal list of prospective DesJarlais challengers:
● State Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), whose base includes part of Rutherford County, the largest in the 4th District. Tracy finished a close third in the 2010 6th District primary before redistricting put him in the 4th.
State Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland), a public relations and conference manager at the Church of God headquarters in Cleveland. Although not all of Bradley County is in the district, the heavily Republican county produces the second largest vote total.
● State Rep. Joe Carr (R-Murfreesboro), who insists it’s way too early to ponder a race but acknowledges he is “thinking about thinking about it” later on.
● Forrest Shoaf, a retired Cracker Barrel executive who in 2002 finished a distant fifth in the open 7th District Republican primary, which was won by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). Shoaf, a West Point graduate with a Harvard law degree, currently resides in Lebanon, which is not in the 4th District, but he is planning to move to Bedford County, whether he decides to pursue the congressional seat or not.
● Shane Reeves, a Rutherford County pharmacy company executive whose name often pops up in political speculation. He is a friend of both Tracy and Carr.
In 2010, DesJarlais defeated Franklin Republican Jack Bailey for the 4th District nomination. Then, riding both an anti-Obama wave and the coattails of Republican gubernatorial victor Haslam, he upset incumbent Democrat Lincoln Davis (D-Pall Mall).

Wamp: Fleischmann Should ‘Exert More Leadership’ on Chick Lock

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.

How Fleischmann Came From 50 Points Behind to Win

Chris Carroll has an insightful look back at how incumbent Chuck Fleischmann, starting from way behind in the polls, pulled out a victory over Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp in the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary – even though his opponents collectively had 61 percent of the vote.
Interviews and a Chattanooga Times Free Press review of the vote count reveal that Wamp may have dumped too many resources into Hamilton County and Mayfield too few. Partly because of that, Fleischmann avoided a dubious distinction that seemed realistic a few months ago — becoming only the third Tennessee congressman since 1966 to lose a contested primary.
…Fleischmann didn’t carry a majority in a single county — Anderson County’s 49 percent was the highest he got anywhere — but Mayfield captured at least 50 percent of votes in McMinn, Monroe and Scott counties, and he easily won two more in Campbell and Polk.
Still, Hamilton County accounted for nearly half the district’s 76,000 ballots, and Mayfield came in last. He lost Hamilton County by 6,769 votes and the district by 6,172.
A week after his third-place showing where it mattered most, Mayfield was second-guessing his Chattanooga-area efforts.
“I’m going to say I probably spent time equally everywhere,” he said. “It’s just that half the voters are in Hamilton County, and so I should have spent half my time there instead of one-tenth of my time.”
…n an interview Friday, the younger Wamp cited more media outlets, more debates and more voters in explaining why he poured most of his time and money into Chattanooga with ads, appearances and interviews.
“The race was taking place in Hamilton County — that’s where people seemed to care; that’s where the media cared,” Wamp said.
But the results indicate he didn’t do enough anywhere else, specifically the seven counties in the Knoxville media market. Excluding Hamilton County, where he beat Fleischmann by 101 votes, Wamp finished third in every county and garnered 19 percent districtwide. Records show he lost Monroe and Scott counties by 5-to-1 margins and six other counties by at least 20 percentage points.
Wamp’s built-in name recognition didn’t translate in places his father never served.
…As Mayfield decided how he would spend $802,000 in campaign contributions and Wamp mulled over options for his $626,000, Fleischmann sat on $1.1 million. The difference? More than $435,000 of the congressman’s largesse came from incumbent-friendly political action committees — resources his challengers could not depend on.
…According to Fleisch-mann chief of staff Chip Saltsman, internal polling taken in early April showed Mayfield “literally up 50 points” in several counties.
“Mayfield was crushing us. Destroying us,” he said. “Basically he was the incumbent.”

Black, Fleischmann in Toughest TN Campaigns for Reelection to Congress

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Freshman U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Chuck Fleischmann both boast of strong conservative records in Congress. That hasn’t stopped either from facing bruising primary challenges to their bids to return to Congress next year.
Voters go to the polls Thursday to decide whether to stick with the GOP incumbents in those races, or make a fresh start with their rivals.
Fleischmann’s challengers in the 3rd District include Scottie Mayfield, an executive with the dairy company that bears his family name, and Weston Wamp, the son of a former congressman.
In the 6th District, Black faces a rematch against Lou Ann Zelenik, whom she narrowly defeated for the nomination to the open House seat in 2010. Zelenik moved from Rutherford County to Wilson County make another run after the district’s boundaries were redrawn earlier this year.

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Wamp Banned from Campaigning at Chattanooga Mall

Congressional candidate Weston Wamp spent four days asking for votes at Chattanooga’s Northgate Mall, an early voting location, reports the Chattanooga TFP. But now he’s been forbidden to continue by the Hamilton County Election Commission after complaints from 10 voters and the mall owners.
“It’s private property, and it’s been that way forever,” said Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, administrator of elections for Hamilton County.
Wamp left but later said Northgate should expect “to forego some type of property rights so the public can come and vote.”
“Consistent with that would mean candidates should be able to greet voters at the polls, which I think is mutually beneficial to the process,” Wamp said in an interview.
Most early voting locations, such as the one at the Hamilton County Election Commission, allow candidates to campaign as long as they’re 100 feet away from a polling site’s entrance, as required by state law.
But a spokeswoman for CBL & Associates Properties, the company that owns Northgate, said the 100-foot rule does not apply to the mall, citing a corporate policy that prohibits “all politicking” at CBL’s 85 regional malls
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Huckabee Raises Some Eyebrows (and some Wamp scoffing)

There were signs that the Republican big tent is fraying at the Statesmen’s Dinner, though the theme was unity and about $500,000 was raised, reports Andy Sher.
Even the choice of the dinner’s keynote speaker — former Arkansas governor and 2008 GOP presidential nominee Mike Huckabee — raised some eyebrows.
Huckabee supported U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., in the 3rd Congressional District 2010 GOP primary. This year, the freshman Chattanooga lawmaker faces spirited challenges from Weston Wamp, of Chattanooga, and Scottie Mayfield, of Athens.
Last week, Huckabee appeared in a new Fleischmann television ad, and they were set to tour the 3rd District before Fleischmann had to cancel so he could get back to Washington for an unexpected vote.
In a statement two days before Huckabee’s speech, Wamp scoffed that “Mike Huckabee’s credibility in Tennessee’s 3rd District is questionable based on his long-standing relationship with Chuck Fleischmann’s chief of staff and political operative, Chip Saltsman.”
He said Huckabee’s “public support of Chuck Fleischmann is a prime example of the ‘back-scratching’ that is part of the problem in Washington.”
Saltsman, a former state GOP chairman, was national manager of Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Neither Wamp nor Mayfield attended the Statesmen’s Dinner.
Huckabee, now a talk show host on Fox News, devoted most of his speech to criticizing President Obama and praising presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Huckabee did urge attendees to “enthusiastically” make sure “Mitt Romney is our next president, [U.S. Sen.] Bob Corker returns to the Senate [and] these outstanding members of your congressional delegation.”
But he didn’t mention any congressman by name.
Republican Lou Ann Zelenik, who is battling to defeat U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., in the 6th District primary, said she didn’t take any offense.
“He’s just bringing his great inspiring message here, and I love him,” she said.
Devaney said he invited Huckabee because he won the 2008 GOP presidential primary in Tennessee, was available to speak and is a popular host on Fox News.
“We had our thing booked first and they [Fleischmann campaign] decided to do, I guess, this endorsement tour,” Devaney said. “But ours was booked first. No, there wasn’t any coordination.”
Fleischmann said he had nothing to do with Huckabee’s invitation to speak at the dinner. He said he doesn’t see his rivals running because they object to his conservative stances on fiscal and social issues.

Mayfield Outspends Fleischmann, But Incumbent Has More Banked

Scottie Mayfield’s campaign spent more than U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in running for the 3rd Congressional District Republican nomination during the past three months, but the incumbent has substantially more cash on hand for the race’s final month, according to reports filed Monday.
A third candidate in the contest, Weston Wamp, is more or less in the middle of the other two, financially speaking.
Mayfield, a dairy company executive, reported receiving $182,696 during the second quarter while spending $380,180. The campaign listed a cash-on-hand balance of $218,638 on July 1.
Fleischmann’s campaign reported taking in $200,968 during the quarter while spending $230,639. The cash-on-hand balance was $730,538, which the congressman emphasized in a news release means that he “has over three times the amount of money that Scottie Mayfield does.”
It’s also more than twice the amount of cash that Wamp has on hand for the campaign windup.
“I am looking forward to the last three weeks of this campaign, and I know this support will allow me to spread my message of less government and a proven conservative record,” Fleischmann said in the release.
Wamp, son of former Congressman Zach Wamp, reported receipts for the quarter of $125,058, spending of $220,827 and a cash-on-hand balance of $340,336.
“We’ve exceeded our goals in funding Weston’s campaign and we are fully funded,” said Alexis Bogo, financial chair of the Wamp campaign in a statement sent to media.
The fourth Republican candidate in the GOP contest, Ron Bhalla, reported spending $14,145 for the quarter, leaving with a cash-on-hand balance of $1,310.
For the campaign since it began for Federal Election Commission purposes last year, Fleishmann has reported total spending of $493,555; Mayfield $633,344 and Wamp $267,486.
On the Democratic side, 3rd District candidate Bill Taylor reported loaning his campaign $6,300 during the quarter, boosting receipts to $8,411. Taylor spent $17,931 in the quarter and had $1,418 left when it ended, according to his FEC report. No new disclosure was available Monday on the FEC website for Democratic candidate Mary Headrick, who had a balance of $3,704 at last report.

Wamp Faulted for Using Video of Veterans Cemetery in Ad

Weston Wamp used video footage shot at Chattanooga National Cemetery for two political ads without permission, prompting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to send a cease-and-desist letter to his congressional campaign.
From the Chattanooga TFP report:
Titled “Congratulations Congress,” the ad ran for several days on Chattanooga television stations. It stopped airing earlier this month, but remained online. Wamp removed the ad from YouTube after a Veterans Affairs official contacted his campaign Thursday.
“It’s a two-second shot of something people drive by every day,” Wamp said. “It didn’t occur to me as something that would be seen by anybody as inappropriate.”
Federal regulations prohibit “photographs for advertising or commercial purposes” taken at Veterans Affairs cemeteries unless written consent is granted. Neither Wamp nor Fancy Rhino, the Chattanooga-based company that produced the ads, asked permission before using an image that included a dead man’s name.
Wamp said he used the headstone shots in an ad about the national debt because “debt dishonors our past.”