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.)
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.”
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.
Zach Poskevich, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, has been on a statewide tour, criticizing incumbent Sen. Bob Corker at every stop. He’s getting some press attention.
From a visit to Shelbyville: He also blasted Corker for voting for Attorney General Eric Holder, who was just held in contempt of Congress for not releasing document related to the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation.
“We had the information on Eric Holder, yet Corker voted to confirm him, and what the consequence of that?” he asked. “The death of two border agents and the deaths of over 200 Mexicans.”
“We have to stand for what’s right and confront the evil we see,” he added.
From the Jackson Sun: Poskevich said he has traveled to about 60 counties in the state since August. This is his first time running for office. He said he is affiliated with the Tea Party and that his goal is to restore the government principles of America’s founding fathers.
“This race is not about me,” he said. “It’s about restoring biblical truths in America. There are no longer consequences for our actions.”
From the Mountain Press: Poskevich thinks Corker is not reading the bills that come before him, that he’s ignoring the Constitution, that he’s voting to confirm presidential appointments he shouldn’t be voting for. In short, Zach Poskevich doesn’t think too much of Bob Corker as U.S. senator.
“I have a problem with senators not reading the bills,” he said during a visit to The Mountain Press. “Voting yes on any bill without reading it is treasonous.”
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.”
Federal law says that congressmen can’t become a lobbyist for a year after leaving office. The Hill reports that about 30 former lawmakers who served in the 111th Congress — for whom the year has now passed — are now employed at law firms, lobby shops, trade groups and think tanks that are registered to lobby.
Yet only 10 of those individuals are themselves registered to lobby. Among them are former Tennessee Democratic Reps. Bart Gordon and John Tanner.
On the other hand, former Republican Rep. Zach Wamp is among the majority who remain a “strategic consultant” on getting government contracts and the like — without registering as a lobbyist.
Excerpt from the article: Former lawmakers at the registered firms say they want to stay involved in public policy debates but find trooping up to Capitol Hill to advocate for clients unappealing. Corporate headhunters say ex-lawmakers are wary of the
“Scarlet L” — the taint of being a registered lobbyist — because it could hinder future political ambitions.
Chris Jones, managing partner of CapitolWorks, said former lawmakers are avoiding the lobbyist tag by working as “senior advisers” at law firms and lobby shops.
“According to their job definition, they are not really meeting the lobbying threshold. … They are probably managing the effort rather than physically lobbying for the client. This is the 30,000-foot view of the project,” said Jones, who recruits lawyers and lobbyists for firms. “That seems to be the scarlet letter. People like to throw it around with disgust.”
From the Chattanooga TFP: Weston Wamp knows he’s not old enough to be a congressman today. Doesn’t matter. On Election Day 2012, the day that will matter, he’ll have been 25 for a little more than seven months. And for the U.S. House of Representatives, 25 is all the Constitution requires.
In an exclusive interview with the Times Free Press, Wamp confirmed he will run for the 2012 Republican nomination for Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District.
“I believe my age is an asset, not a liability,” Wamp said. “You look at Washington right now and you see there’s no shortage of people with long resumes and decades of experience. But it’s the most dysfunctional Congress that our country has seen in years.”
The stakes are huge. Wamp’s father, former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, was elected in 1994 and held the seat through 2010. He gave it up to run unsuccessfully for governor.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, the current officeholder and also a Republican, has indicated he’ll run for re-election, setting up an unusual primary battle between a first-time incumbent and the son of his immediate predecessor.
(Note: Still wating in the wings as a potential candidate is Robin Smith, former state Republican party chairman who lost to Fleischmann in the 2010 primary.)
Ken Whitehouse reports that Zach Wamp is already helping out. According to several sources, the ex-congressman has been calling his former campaign donors asking for financial support for the past several months and has taken Weston Wamp to Washington, D.C., in the hopes of signing on a big-name political consultant. After leaving the U.S. Congress, Zach Wamp has opened up a general consulting firm that “specializes in energy, defense/security, transportation and workforce development/technology transfer,” according to his website.
Weston Wamp, meanwhile, runs a firm out of Chattanooga he calls Wamp Strategy. That venture was founded late last year and focuses on public relations and marketing through the use of social media. The company website claims, “Weston got started young — handing out business cards and political advice at around age five. He hasn’t slowed down much and now (with 19 years of strategic experience under his belt) Weston is making a mark on his hometown.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Hendersonville technology consultant Zach Poskevich says he will capitalize on “tea party fervor” in challenging U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in the next year’s Republican primary.
Poskevich, an Army veteran making his first bid for office, said in a release announcing his candidacy on Wednesday that he “can do better than Bob Corker.”
Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, had $5.3 million on hand for his re-election bid at the end of the most recent reporting period, compared with $5,000 Poskevich had given his own campaign.
Poskevich acknowledged that he won’t be able to challenge Corker’s fundraising prowess, which he called “corporate-driven.”
Federal Election Commission records list James Patrick Durkan of Chattanooga as another Republican candidate for the seat. No Democrats have joined the race so far. Note: Poskevich’s announcement news release is below.
Tennessee’s four outgoing House members paid staffers a total of $210,520 during their final two days in office, joining figures compiled by the wattchdog group LegiStorm and reported by the Tennessean. Murfreesboro Democrat Bart Gordon, who retired from Congress, gave $83,547 in bonuses to 17 staffers immediately before he retired in January. That put him at No. 8 and the only Tennessee lawmaker ranked in the top 10 among the 93 House members who retired in January or were voted out of office, LegiStorm found.
During the last three months of 2010, when many lawmakers paid yearly bonuses, Gordon’s entire staff payroll went up by just $1,066, LegiStorm data show. Gordon said that’s because he waited until the last possible moment to issue the bonuses that he said made up for the “lowball” salaries he paid earlier in the year.
He learned not to pay too much too soon after his first year in office, when he exceeded his budget and had to pay overages out of pocket, he said.
…Lincoln Davis, who lost to Republican Scott DesJarlais in November, paid staffers a total of $62,234 during the first two days of January. The Pall Mall Democrat also spent $30,148 more on salaries in the last three months of 2010 than he spent, on average, during the first three quarters of 2010.
Union City Democrat John Tanner paid $48,959 to staff during the first two days of January. That’s in addition to the $42,456 pay bump he gave during the final quarter of last year.
Zach Wamp, the Chattanooga Republican who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor, paid $15,780 to staff during the first two days of January. That’s on top of the nearly $103,000 pay bump he gave staffers during the final quarter of last year.