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).
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.
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.
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.”
Scottie Mayfield told supporters to expect “false/negative” television advertising from his Republican primary opponents in the coming weeks, reports Chris Carroll. But he declined to identify the source of that information or describe the content of the ads. “Republican leaders and voters report that we’ll be attacked on TV soon,” the Athens, Tenn., dairy executive wrote on Twitter. “False/negative ads have no place in [Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District Republican] primary.”
Joe Hendrix, a spokesman for Mayfield, said, “Scottie committed to not going negative in any way.” He declined further elaboration on that basis but said his boss anticipates attack ads with “fabricated” content.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, the well-financed, first-term incumbent Mayfield is trying to unseat, denied having knowledge of anything Mayfield implied.
…Republican challenger Weston Wamp flatly denied he would produce or approve any negative ads against Mayfield. A representative for Ron Bhalla, Fleischmann’s other GOP opponent, said such ads wouldn’t come from him.
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.
In a story on Weston Wamp’s reliance on Zach Wamp in campaigning for the 3rd Congressional District seat, Chris Carroll reports that the father once helped his son seek work in Washington with Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.
Zach Wamp made the initial call to set up his son for an interview with Chip Saltsman, who at the time was Fleischmann’s campaign manager, according to Saltsman. The to,e was about a month after Zach Wamp had lost the August, 2010, Republican gubernatorial primary and Fleischmann had won the 3rd District Republican primary to replace Zach Wamp in Congress.
“He wanted me to give Weston a job interview,” Saltsman says. “I told him I would.” Zach Wamp’s pattern of helping his son continues now that Weston Wamp is challenging Fleischmann for the 3rd District seat, from tapping his old donor network to knocking on voters’ doors.
Now Fleischmann’s chief of staff, Saltsman said Weston Wamp once viewed Fleisch-mann as a potential Capitol Hill employer, not part of “the status quo” he criticizes almost daily in his quest to win his father’s old office.
Two sources confirmed Saltsman’s account, but both Wamps challenged it.
…As Saltsman remembers the 2010 meeting at Fleischmann’s Chattanooga campaign headquarters, the younger Wamp didn’t bring a resume and asked to be Fleischmann’s press secretary.
“I went into it with an open mind — Weston is well spoken and certainly does not lack in confidence,” Saltsman said. “But his conversation was a lot more about him and his skill set as opposed to why he wanted to work for Chuck.”
Weston Wamp denied that, saying he visited Saltsman to offer Fleischmann help on social media and online outreach — duties normally handled by a congressional press secretary.
“There was nothing about a job,” Weston Wamp said.
Saltsman said he decided against hiring Weston Wamp, adding that he called Zach Wamp to deliver the news.
“Zach did not agree with that decision,” Saltsman said. “Obviously a father’s going to lobby hard for his son.”
Some 3rd Congressional District hopefuls who are pleading for civic responsibility in the Aug. 2 primary are sporadic voters themselves, reports Chris Carroll. Democratic candidate Bill Taylor confronted his record of missing 10 elections in 10 years.
“Obviously I think voting’s more important now than I did in 2002 or whatever,” he said.
Republican dairy executive Scottie Mayfield has skipped 11 of 34 county, state and federal elections since 1990. He missed the 1996 presidential election and its Tennessee primary, leaving no trace of his thinking on former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole’s challenge to President Bill Clinton. (Mayfield voted in the Republican presidential primary in 1992.)
Later Mayfield failed to cast a ballot in the 2000 presidential primary, where he could have chosen from a field that included Texas Gov. George W. Bush and U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Mayfield also is the only 3rd District Republican hopeful whose history shows him voting in an exclusively Democratic race.
Records show Mayfield cast a vote in the 1990 McMinn County Democratic primary. One of the 1990 Democratic school board candidates, Becky Jacquish, donated $250 to Mayfield’s congressional campaign this year.
A spokesman for Mayfield did not respond to detailed questions in several phone messages and emails.
Among the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, and six 3rd District challengers, only 25-year-old Weston Wamp can claim a perfect voting history.
Congressional candidate Weston Wamp declined Tuesday to say whether his younger sister recorded or posted online a video titled “Scottie Mayfield Struggles to Answer Basic Questions,” reports the Chattanooga TFP. “The origin of the video is unimportant to us,” Wamp campaign manager Bonnie Brezina said in an emailed statement. “The substance of what Mr. Mayfield said is important to voters.”
Wamp and several of his advisers declined to answer several yes-or-no questions about whether Coty Wamp attended the relevant meeting, filmed the video or uploaded it to YouTube.
….Posted April 18 and apparently filmed hidden-camera style, the YouTube video shows Mayfield telling the University of Tennessee in Knoxville’s College Republicans club that he must get elected to Congress before he gets “too focused” on what he wants to do there. A student at University of Tennessee College of Law, Coty Wamp attended the meeting and may have taped it, according to Tyler King, president of UT’s College Republicans.
The Chattanooga Pulse has a Q&A with 3rd District Congressional candidate Weston Wamp that may be more interesting for the Qs than the As…. and leaves one wondering whether Chruck Fleischman will get similar questions and how he would respond.
(Hat tip: Trace Sharp.)
The full interview is HERE.
The first three portions: Several females in our office think you’re, well, hot, and are inclined to vote for you based solely on your dimples and hard body. Do you have a serious girlfriend or are you playing the field?
That’s flattering, but I’m realizing that running for Congress doesn’t leave a lot of time for a personal life. On the same note, you’re single, young, good looking. If elected, how do you intend to navigate the wiles of Washington and stay out of trouble?
I’ll stay grounded by spending as much time as possible back home in Chattanooga. I’ve got an incredible support system of family, friends and supporters here as well as many friends in Washington who will be watching my back. In politics, as in life, surrounding yourself with the right people makes all the difference. You rock a pretty stylish casual look, kind of a Southern preppy thing and we dig it, especially the rough five o’clock shadow. Tell us about your style aesthetic.
Blazer, jeans and cowboy boots are my standard–I’ve been told it’s “urban cowboy.” I said at the beginning of my campaign that I was running because it’s time for some young people step up and bring new ideas and fresh blood to Washington, so I’m not going to start dressing like I’m 50 in the process. I think voters want people in elected office who are “real” for a change, but when it’s time to wear a suit, I’ve got no problem cleaning up. And my friend Corky Coker would want you to know that I shave daily now.