published Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

GOP 3rd District primary looming

by Chris Carroll

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann refused on Monday to discuss his potential primary opponents, instead asking a staffer to email a statement to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

“Right now we’re worried about the deficit, cutting spending and getting our financial house in order,” Jordan Powell, a spokesman for Fleischmann, R-Tenn., wrote Monday. “We’re not thinking about politics.”

Federal Election Commission records tell a different story.

Fleischmann has itemized $102,674 for a potential 2012 GOP primary campaign, including $500 from former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist and $2,500 from Natalie L. Haslam, Gov. Bill Haslam’s stepmother, according to the Federal Election Commission, which tracks campaign donations to candidates and causes.

Since Election Day last November, Fleischmann has raised $164,848 for all purposes — mainly debt payments and campaign funding. The campaign has spent $22,707 this year, part of about $60,000 in debt payments from the 2010 race, records show.

“If Chuck Fleischmann ever says he’s not playing politics, he’s being disingenuous at the very least,” Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese said. “He should absolutely be concerned about his political future.”

Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Marty Von Schaaf declined to discuss Fleischmann’s job performance or potential primary opponents, but he sympathized with the difficulties of freshman lawmakers finding their place in Congress and learning how Washington works.

“It takes about a year,” he said. “All of a sudden, he’s in campaign mode again. He has to be.”

Fleischmann represents Tennessee’s 3rd District, which includes Chattanooga and Oak Ridge. He spent a record $1.3 million during last year’s primary and general election campaign, including $600,000 of his own money that he donated or lent.

New financial disclosures are available Saturday.

The Times Free Press inquiry came on the heels of a July 5 New York Times article in which Weston Wamp, the 24-year-old son of former Rep. Zach Wamp, said he’s “taking a serious look” at challenging Fleischmann for the seat his father held for 16 years. The elder Wamp gave up the congressional seat he held for eight terms to run for governor, a race he lost.

A few days after The New York Times story, Robin Smith, Fleischmann’s major opponent in the congressional race, told the Times Free Press she’s “not going to rule out” another run for Congress.

Smith, a Hixson health care consultant and former head of the state Republican Party, lost to Fleischmann by 2 percentage points in a GOP primary that packed 11 candidates.

Neither Weston Wamp nor Smith has submitted reports to the Federal Election Commission.

“Fundraising factors into any political race,” Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said. “Can’t say that enough. You have to have funds to be viable.”

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hambone said...

With his votes on tax payer funded subsidies to big oil and for the Ryan budget plan he should be worried. Best thing for Chuck to do is hope he doesn't have to spend his own money again!

July 12, 2011 at 12:24 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Thanks for voting to eliminate Medicare, Chuckie! With votes like that we don't need you to run again in 2012. Haven't seen one vote you did that was productive: more pollution in our rivers and streams, mountain top removal, government subsidies for oil companies, elimination of medicaid, food stamps, and medicare. Time for you to leave now.

July 12, 2011 at 6:31 a.m.
Facts said...

Congratulations to Chuck, Mr. Saltsman, Mike Huckabee and all of Chuck's supporters. You have elected what we warned of: a trial lawyer, posing as a small businessman, who wanted a new title and a federal pension. Please stand up so we can give you proper credit. Yeah, I thought so. I'd be ashamed for supporting these idiots, too.

July 12, 2011 at 6:44 a.m.
rolando said...

-- What federal pension is that, "Facts"? Please be specific...

-- And exactly how did Chuck vote to "eliminate Medicare", SignalSandy? Yeah, I know, "by his vote", right? Please be a bit more explanatory and specific than that as to how his vote showed how Medicare would be "eliminated".

You follow the DNC attack info a bit closely, there. As with all political party orgs, they aren't exactly truthful...but then what politician is?

July 12, 2011 at 8:14 a.m.
esaletnik said...

Each of the names mentioned here are interchangeable with the other. You really think that Robin Smith and this Wamp character are going to vote any differently than Fleischmann? That they are more to the left than Fleischmann? Robin Smith is Michele Bachmann without the sex appeal.

July 12, 2011 at 8:38 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

Reality is against Medicare: it's broke. The Constitution is against Medicare: it's not authorized. So Mr Fleischmann voted to change Medicare for future recipients in order to make it viable as is for current recipients, and viable in a different form for younger people? That's the kind of compromise we pay such politicians to make. And the Bible is against Medicare: it's not on the list of jobs for government to do (Romans 13, I Timothy 2).

Even though it's still paying sick people to be sick, paying with other people's money, it's less bad than what the leading Democrats are doing--drunkards demanding another bottle, bankrupts demanding another credit card, refusing any reform and trying to scare people into paying the Danegeld they demand.

Vouchers may be a step in the right direction: let each consumer make their own choices and save money and keep what they save, instead of trying to let 15 bureaucrats in D.C. impose savings on tens of millions of people they don't know.

(I think I voted for Spiros in the primary, and probably for some third party in the general election, not for Mr Fleischmann; and I can't say he's done much to win my next votes.)

July 12, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.
fairmon said...

I need educating on some of the issues posted here. I still have no idea which party to believe. Hope and change hadn't done much for anyone so far. But, the alternative doesn't sound exciting either.

Medicare is broke and bankrupting the country. That is a fact I know to be true. What would those objecting to the proposed future adjustments recommend to fix medicare? As I understand it the proposals do not have an adverse impact on current participants.

I have read that medicaid was primarily a state funded program, is that not correct?

What congressional vote condoned polluting rivers and streams?

I haven't seen or heard anything about the elimination of food stamps, what is the source of facts on this issue?

On CNBC an economist said eliminating oil company subsidies would result in an increase in gas prices which would adversely impact the lower income worker, I can see how that could happen but I would like to see all subsidies, incentives and other government intervention in businesses abolished.

I have and will support qualified independent candidates that have no party ties.

July 12, 2011 at 8:51 a.m.
Facts said...

Rolando, The cave in which you're dwelling is obviously keeping you from easy-to-access information. The federal, congressional pension is unsurpassed in its benefits. Why do you think there's such an effort for congressional staffers to stay on the federal payroll? Just look at the recycled Wamp staff & Alexnader staff showing up in Chuck's staff & the Desjarlias staff. I'd find another way to defend Chuck.

On the others mentioned in the article as possible primary opponents, just a few comments. No Wamp should be elected. One promised term limits & now wants to serve another term through his son. Nope. Mrs. Smith has worked against a lot of candidates I've supported & I worked against her in this primary race last year. I regret that. She definitely has her faults but would not be on the run from voters.
Esaletnik, as a progressive female who's worked for everything I have in a man's world, you obviously are a sexist pig that needs to call Mike Huckabee for your next word from on high. Elections only involve "sex appeal" for failures like you.

July 12, 2011 at 9:10 a.m.
LibDem said...

I have to agree with esaletnik. The Republican who occupies this seat will vote the Party line. The advantage of the young Mr. Wamp is that he can serve for 50 years. Maybe he would commit to a limit of 25 terms. Seems fair.

(Mr. Lohr: I'm sorry you can't remember quite how you voted. It was a long time ago and you're probably busy looking for Bible passages that explain your computer's operating system.)

July 12, 2011 at 9:19 a.m.
ejohnson017 said...

How much taxpayer money is Mr.Saltsman making as chief of staff for the Congressman in Washington DC?

July 12, 2011 at 9:29 a.m.
LibDem said...

harp3339: Medicare is funded by your FICA tax (about 18% of this amount) matched by your employer (or yourself if self employed). In addition, Medicare beneficiaries pay a premium (currently $1,158/yr). There are a number of options for covering the shortfall. Increasing the premium would burden poor people. Increasing the tax would be problematic for the current Congress (and workers). Increasing the minimum age and/or payment formulas are problems for beneficiaries and providers.

Medicaid is jointly funded by the Federal and State governments with the Federal government providing 50% or more depending on the income levels in the individual States. The States administer the program but must comply with Federal standards. This compliance caveat can put a State in a funding bind.

In the interest of full disclosure, I, a Liberal, favor both these programs but would prefer universal health care.

July 12, 2011 at 10:08 a.m.
chet123 said...


July 12, 2011 at 11:14 a.m.
hambone said...

Really, the 1st paragraph of this article tells it all. Someone has to do Chicken Chuck's thinking for him!

July 12, 2011 at 11:37 a.m.
maddawg said...

Chuckie is the biggest joke in Washington. He is an embarresment to us all.

July 12, 2011 at noon
rolando said...

Facts said little factual but did say, "Rolando, The cave in which you're dwelling is obviously keeping you from easy-to-access information."

Oh, I know the federal Congressional retirement programs quite well "Facts"...I merely wanted to know if you did. You don't.

Here is what has to say on the topic:

"Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they've completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62. Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to even receive a pension."

It won't be hard for you to find -- Google "us house of representatives retirement plan" and its the first cite on the list.

I daresay the real reason for those others running for the office is not just the $174K salary, but all the extra perks involved. Waiting 25 years to draw a pension in worthless-by-then dollars is not a good investment.

July 12, 2011 at 2:07 p.m.
joepulitzer said...

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann refused on Monday to discuss his potential primary opponents, instead asking a staffer to email a statement to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.


July 12, 2011 at 2:24 p.m.
Selah said...

Just thinking about the Republican Party makes my stomach SICK. Vote 2012 for Democrats or others ...unless you want the following:

unions to be silenced, medicare cuts, social security on a downward spiral, affordable healthcare out the window(while ins. companies make record profits and pay CEOs millions), education down the tubes b/c we can no longer find a teacher for the positions, more tax cuts for the rich (who are buying their third home b/c they refuse to give pay raises and healthcare to those who make them who they are), gas prices skyrocketing (while gas co. make record profits), continued tax loop holes for millionaries, continued lack of campaign finance reform that influence all of this to the benefit of the Rich Republicans while they try to silence the middle class and poor through silencing UNION rights...VOTE REPUBLICAN to your own detriment ...There is so much more but I am getting sicker as I remember the horror of this year and the past 8 years of BUSH. I regret votiing for him for second term... Send a message to all Republican elected officials, local and federal, you still have to ANSWER to US!!! "WE THE PEOPLE"

July 12, 2011 at 3:13 p.m.
joepulitzer said...

lesliesmart, Weston Wamp is a clean-cut, very intelligent young man who attends church with his parents regularly at Red Bank Baptist. I was a member there for several years and that's what I observed. Also, as a congressman, he will have an excellent, vastly experienced coach: Zach.

As four you Selah, this statement alone is enough to keep me from voting Democratic - ever: "unions to be silenced," not to mention Dems love for killing babies at almost any stage as long as they are still in their mother's womb.

July 12, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.
fairmon said...


I am familiar with the funding processes for medicare/medicaid. What I haven't seen is how the current trend of higher cost of each with even more short fall than current is to be addressed? As you noted in the alternatives you listed they all bring hardship to someone. Is it possible the hardship can't be avoided?

Universal health care may be a viable option but can be constructed many ways. The funding problem with universal health care still exist. I did read the affordable health care act and if you read it I think you will see how poorly written it is and how it favors some that are not in the can't afford it category at the expense of others. It does increase taxes on essentially every citizen. Wavers have since been granted to three states plus a few million others. It seems congress, both parties, can't pass legislation that is fair to everyone and without showing favor to their supporting special interest.

A frightening thing is how congress abdicated their responsibility by giving a committee authority whose decisions can't be appealed or challenged. It is difficult to read but I wish everyone would do so.

July 12, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.
Facts said...

Weston Wamp for Congress because he attended church on Sunday & has a dad who never saw a federal dollar he didn't want to spend as his puppet. Chuck's got Huckabee & Saltsman Weston will have Daddy.

As I typed this, it's funny. If the female candidate tried this, we'd hear all sorts of criticism like "weak candidate", "ineffective leader". Double standards confirm who'll I be voting for...the only one who appears to stand on her own.

July 12, 2011 at 5:32 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Maybe Weston can get Pimp Daddy's old room on "C" Street.

July 12, 2011 at 5:58 p.m.
LibDem said...

harp3339: The Affordable Health Care Act is deeply flawed. It's not what the President wanted, but he accepted it and, therefore, owns it.

The cost is already here. Every American has some health care. Some minimally through the ER, some maximally through private insurance, some through Medicare, some Medicaid. We need to draw all together and get a handle on the cost.

Currently, we pay for pharmaceutical companies to advertise prescription drugs on TV, in magazines, etc. Why do we do this? We pay the admin and profit of private insurance companies. Why? Hospitals and clinics advertise. What this about?

I won't argue that there will be no increase in costs and that this will not be carried by taxpayers. It will mean an uptick in tax rates and no one likes taxes. The offset, I have to hope, is a population that is relatively healthy and productive and not worried about the cost of health care. The profit margin may be the quality of life.

(Remember, I'm one of those damn Liberals.)

July 12, 2011 at 7:32 p.m.
Selah said... is your right to vote how you want, if you can live with the consequences. Republicans have played on the sympathies of upstanding, christian voters for too long. Then they get into office and pass their own hidden agendas. Abortion and homosexuality is their playing cards yet they have done NOTHING to stop it...absolutely NOTHING...the most important agenda they have now is filling their pocketbooks. So be it...

Also, joePulitzer---you never answered the post "what qualifies him?". Seems like the same ole Republican cards money and who you know. I would respect him more if he ran on some issues and not his father's name. I voted for Zach W. but I will not vote for his son unless he has something to back it up.

July 12, 2011 at 10:33 p.m.
fairmon said...


I don't buy the liberal and conservative labels since most people don't agree with the initiatives of either party. I agree with a lot of so called liberal views but I would not fit the standard conclusion most reach when someone is labeled as liberal. However, the same is true for conservative. Some key things by regulation I would like to see:

No negotiated provider rates. A provider would be required to charge the same to anyone for the same service. Negotiated rates only shift the cost to others.

I would like to see a totally separate from the general fund a health care fund. I would like to see a national retail consumer tax with no exceptions sufficient to pay for each citizen to have a standard health care coverage. Insurance providers should be limited to spending no more than 15% of revenue on items other than claims. A lot of details such as how to level the impact of preexisting and uninsurable on providers. Each citizen would receive a health care voucher each year to pay the provider of their choice, without limiting the source to the states, for the standard policy as defined by regulators. A decision needs to be made regarding whether we pay for national or state regulations and enforcement.

July 13, 2011 at 8:24 a.m.
LibDem said...

harp3339: Thanks for the input. Some good ideas.

I'm inclined to leave the private insurance companies out of the mix in favor of a single payer. It's a powerful lobby capable of corrupting legislators who don't have strong character.

The consumer tax tends to burden low income people, but if the Medicare portion of FICA is abated, it might just wash. That notwithstanding, I think everyone should contribute. We should all feel we have a vested interest.

(The 'Liberal' and 'Conservative' labels are tossed out now without definitions and are generally meaningless. I'm very old and the 'Liberal' label has significance from my kidhood days. I'm never embarrassed to so label myself.)

July 13, 2011 at 12:50 p.m.
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