published Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Candidates to boycott Hamilton County GOP event Saturday

by Brittany Cofer

by Larry Henry

Chuck Fleischmann and other candidates in the 3rd Congressional District race say they will boycott the Hamilton County Republican Party's largest fundraiser Saturday because of a "pay-to-play" policy that would cost them $2,000 to speak at the event.

"I think all candidates should be able to speak -- or none of the candidates should be able to speak," said Mr. Fleischmann, a local attorney who has put $544,000 of his own money into his campaign.

Mr. Fleischmann said though he continues to support the Hamilton County party, he will not attend the event, to be held at Chattanooga Convention and Trade Center at 6 p.m.

Hamilton County Republican Party Vice Chairman Harold Coker said there is "no charge for the candidates to speak," but the party expects candidates "to buy two tables" at $1,000 each. Without that purchase, they cannot speak, he said.

Fellow 3rd District candidates Van Irion and Tommy Crangle said they will not attend and instead are going to a Tea Party event in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Tim Gobble, the Bradley County sheriff who also is running for the seat, said he will attend but did not buy tickets for two tables and therefore will not speak.

Mr. Irion said the policy is an example of "how party bosses run elections."

"There's one particular candidate that's going to be there ... and she's going to be talking to herself," he said. "Any straw polls or any other press releases that come out of that Lincoln Day Dinner are pretty much going to be a joke."

Robin Smith, a Hixson resident also vying for the open 3rd District seat, said her campaign has bought seats at two tables in addition to about four other tickets for supporters.

Individual tickets are $55, according to an e-mail from the Hamilton County Republican Party. Each table seats eight. Tables for gubernatorial candidates are $1,600 each.

Ms. Smith, a former state GOP chairman, said the annual Lincoln Day Dinner is the "headline" event for the county party and that she has a 20-year history of helping GOP candidates in elections.

"We're being supportive of local candidates and the local party," she said of Saturday's event.

Ms. Smith said she questions the timing of those with "sour grapes" who have chosen a few days before an event where a straw-poll vote will be conducted to announce they will not be attending.

"We're not stacking the room," she added.

Another GOP candidate in the 3rd District race, Art Rhodes, president and chief executive officer of the Church of God Benefits board in Cleveland, Tenn., said he has purchased two tables at the event and welcomes the opportunity to speak to what he anticipates will be 500-600 attendees.

"These are people who are going to vote," he said, referring to the Aug. 5 primary election.

Mr. Coker said he was disappointed that some of the candidates will not be attending.

"We would have expected all of them to be able to speak and support the party," he said. "I'm surprised that they're not. I'm disappointed that they're not."

Spokespersons for two GOP gubernatorial candidates, Bill Haslam and Ron Ramsey, said the price for tables at the event has not been an issue in that race, to their knowledge. Lt. Gov. Ramsey will attend his daughter's wedding on Saturday and will not be at the Lincoln Day Dinner in Chattanooga, said his spokeswoman, Rachel Taylor.

Sam Edelen, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., who also is running for governor, said the campaign had no immediate response on whether the cost for tables at the event was an issue.

Others vying to replace Rep. Wamp in the 11-county 3rd Congressional District include Republicans Jean Howard Hill, Grover Travillian and Rick Kernea, Democrats Alicia Mitchell, John Wolfe, Brenda Freeman Short and Brent Davis Staton, and six independents.

The general election is Nov. 2.

Continue reading by following this link to a related story:

Article: Chattanooga: GOP governor hopefuls stump at Lincoln Day Dinner

about Brittany Cofer...

Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
libertylady said...

Thank you Van, Chuck and Tommy for standing up on this issue. Hamilton county is the only county to require payment for candidates to speak at the dinner. As the former state GOP chair, it's no surprise that 'party boss' Smith is using her connections to keep this race from being a fair competition. We need the Republican party to represent 'we the people' again. This country doesn't have time for petty party politics.

May 20, 2010 at 10:04 a.m.

"[Hamilton County Republican Party Vice Chairman Harold Coker]said he was disappointed that some of the candidates will not be attending.

"We would have expected all of them to be able to speak and support the party," he said. "I'm surprised that they're not. I'm disappointed that they're not.""

Perhaps it should be noted that Mr. Coker and his wife have donated $2,700 to Robin Smith's campaign according to the FEC website which will more than cover the required amount to allow her to speak. Maybe he would also be willing to donate the required $2,000 to all of the other candidates to allow them the same opportunity. Just a thought.

May 20, 2010 at 10:04 a.m.

Tim Gobble has also made a stand on this issue.

May 20, 2010 at 10:06 a.m.
mrnicecat said...

HAHAHA Now all can see what a snake in the grass that hisses out of both sides of its' mouth that COKER really is.. " No charge for the candidates to speak" but the party expects the candidate "to buy two tables" at 1,000 each. Without that purchase they cannot speak. He said.

now how is that for republican double talk of agreedy lying crook like coker......god, got to love a double talker like him. WORTHLESS

May 20, 2010 at 10:39 a.m.
harrystatel said...

Another good reason to NOT vote for Smith. Is it possible that Smith and Littlefield are twins separated at birth? Both are political hacks and toadies, with puppet-masters pulling their strings.

Party Republicans or Party Democrats—what's the difference? None! Both are corrupt and deserving of a seat under the outhouse where they are most at home.

May 20, 2010 at 11:06 a.m.
nurseforjustice said...

The more I hear about Robin Smith the less I like. Now for me it is between Chuck Fleischmann and Van Irion. Jury is still out.

May 20, 2010 at 11:11 a.m.
libertylady said...

Gobble most definately did not take a stand on this. He is asking for special treatment. He's asking that they break their own policy for his benefit. The HCRP can set whatever policy they like and live with the consequences, which they are seeing now. But to ask them to break that policy just for one candidate is worse than what HCRP is doing.

May 20, 2010 at 12:32 p.m.
mkelley said...

It's advertising. You want to run in a race, then you pay to be seen on TV, heard on Radio or in-person in these private events.

May 20, 2010 at 12:36 p.m.
libertylady said...

For those on the fence between Van and Chuck... I've met Chuck several times. He is a nice guy, but he doesn't have the skill set for this job. Van does and here's why. 1. He knows what the job is - to defend the Constitution - and the proper role of the federal government - to be limited by the Constitution. 2. He has an iron will. He will not bend to DC culture - DC culture will bend to him. He will be a constant reminder to every other Representative and Senator of what their sworn duty is and educate them on how to uphold that duty. 3. He is smart and resourceful - with a 10th the budget of his competitors he has made this a 3-way race. I know he has ideas for getting DC to function on a 10th of their budget too. Check out his website - and you'll see he's not your average candidate.

May 20, 2010 at 1:05 p.m.

libertylady-Here is a direct quote from Gobble's presser:

"All qualified Republican candidates should be allowed to speak, and Party officials should let us have a voice so the people can decide who best represents their interest."

How is that asking them to break their policy for ONLY ONE candidate? I believe he said ALL.

May 20, 2010 at 1:48 p.m.
JoeCuppa said...

ladyliberty likes to lie does she? sounds like maybe she is van irion's wife. van irion's wife poses as though she doesn't have an involvement with the campaigns and then discusses them all and somehow miraculously always thinks van irion is the best choice. she does this regularly at campaign events and gatherings.

how about it ladyliberty? you her?

May 20, 2010 at 4:37 p.m.
libertylady said...

This is also what Gobble said knowing that half that candidates won't be there.

"Tim Gobble, 3rd District House candidate, said he plans to attend the Hamilton County Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday night, and he said he should be allowed to speak without paying $2,000."

I'm sure he does want ALL the candidates that do attend to be able to speak.

May 20, 2010 at 5:29 p.m.
libertylady said...

I would like to sincerely apologize to Mr. Gobble. I can see now that I misunderstood his statement quoted above. This being the case, I expect to hear in the news Sunday that he either paid the $2000 or did not attempt to speak at the event. I apologize for assuming otherwise.

May 20, 2010 at 6:35 p.m.

Just FYI, the Hamilton County Lincoln Day dinner is the primary fundraiser to keep the doors open year round for the Hamilton Co. Republican Headquarters. Most other counties do not operate a headquarters year round, so this is why they don't ask for the donations. The Hamilton Co. GOP headquarters has always been a valuable source for Republican candidates in the past. My question to those who plan to boycott would be if they happen to win the nomination, will they have the guts to then go to headquarters and ask for any help? In the past the headquarters has been used to distribute campaign material of the republican candidates among countless of other uses for the benefit of the Republican candidates. It seems to me that it is an unwise decision to attack publicly those who would be working for you if you win the primary.

May 20, 2010 at 6:58 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Take the above post by EternalVigilance. Where he's written "Republican", insert "Democrats". See any difference?

That's why I won't vote for Party Republicans or Party Democrats. That includes the Wamps, Smiths, Alexanders, Haslams, Crutchfields, Littlefields, and all the other Party-line sycophants.

Not a dime's worth of difference in any of them. They all remind me of the the old Cher song, "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves."

May 20, 2010 at 7:22 p.m.

Well Mr. harrystatel, operating a year round headquarters requires money to pay the bills. It takes money to keep the lights on, pay rent, phone bills, etc. This headquarters benefits all republican candidates. No one is stealing or making a profit so your analogy is way off base. I challenge any of you to investigate where the money goes that is raised at the Lincoln Day dinner. Check out the facts before you start throwing stones.

May 20, 2010 at 8:50 p.m.
harrystatel said...

"This headquarters benefits all republican candidates."

No, it benefits those "Republicans" who toe the party line like the Soviet comrades and the brownshirts of Germany. And those "Republicans" are the same as yellow-dog democrats, bought and paid for.

If your "free-speech republicans" can't offer free speech to all qualified republican candidates, then the republican party of Hamilton County isn't worth a bucket of warm spit.

Congratulations to the Official Republican Party Headquarters of Hamilton County. Your arrogance and pettiness is showing.

May 20, 2010 at 11:35 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Also, I will NOT vote for any republican who speaks at the dinner unless all qualified candidates are given a chance to speak. In addition I will ACTIVELY work against all "official" Hamilton County Republican candidates who are chosen unless all qualified Republicans are allowed to speak.

Shame on you, Hamilton County Republican Headquarters. You've proven yourself just as despicable as the democrats.

Great Public Relations move, by the way. Let's see you double-talk you way out of this one.

May 20, 2010 at 11:58 p.m.
libertylady said...

I believe that the reason this is an issue is that the policy changed this year. This is not how it is traditionally done, even in Hamilton county. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the candidates were all planning to go and were informed just this week about the new policy.

May 21, 2010 at 12:06 a.m.

The irony of it all is that they were trying to raise more money by requiring the candidates to pay to speak and now will probably make less money than they would have otherwise because the various supporters of the candidates who will not be attending and/or speaking will not see the need to attend(i.e. less ticket sales).

May 21, 2010 at 10:08 a.m.
MountainJoe said...

Yeah, I was thinking about going but based on this I will now pass on the event.

May 21, 2010 at 10:26 a.m.
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