Congressional challenger Weston Wamp announced his first fundraiser Tuesday, escalating a financial operation that includes 12 people who have already donated $23,000 to re-elect his opponent, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.
"There are a lot of people who maybe wrote a check to the incumbent," Wamp, 24, said. "But now they're enthused about a candidate who they really feel can go and impact the debate in Washington."
Among the prominent Republican donors on Wamp's host committee: Republic Parking System CEO Jim Berry, Chattem CEO Zan Guerry and Capital Toyota President Bob McKamey.
ONLINE TOWN HALL
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is holding his first "Facebook town hall" throughout this week, according to a campaign news release.
"I am glad I serve in a time that allows for many avenues of communication," Fleischmann said.
Interested parties can leave their questions on Fleischmann's Facebook page. He will post a video at the end of next week answering some of those questions, a spokesman said.
Each man donated $2,500 to Fleischmann's primary campaign this year, but the trio historically supported Wamp's father, eight-term Congressman Zach Wamp, who also has a spot on his son's host committee.
The conflicts could spark a fight for donors as the all-important 3rd Congressional District GOP primary election approaches. Fleischmann declined to comment through a spokesman.
An invitation for the Dec. 5 Wamp event asks $500 per person and $1,000 per couple, noting a business casual atmosphere at Alexis and Barry Bogo's Chattanooga home. Alexis Bogo is Zan Guerry's daughter.
"I initially spent about an hour with [Weston] and I was kind of blown away, honestly," she said. "The energy and the passion came through."
Wamp said he'll be the 90-minute event's main speaker, never mentioning whether his father will play a role. Fleischmann recently held a private fundraiser that featured the endorsement of House Speaker John Boehner and attracted $200,000.
Sources close to Wamp's campaign have acknowledged the Dec. 5 event must be successful for the campaign to be taken seriously. Not including what he raised at the Boehner event, Fleischmann has $352,288 on hand for his re-election.
Members of Wamp's 75-member host committee have pledged either $2,500 or $5,000 before the end of the year, the candidate said.
"Campaigns are too expensive," Wamp said. "It takes a large amount of money to be successful, and I'm thankful for the support of hardworking businesspeople."
Wamp said he's planning several fundraisers at all dollar amounts, including less costly events "featuring music and entertainment meant to attract young people."
Fundraising information for Wamp and Jean Howard-Hill, the other Republican candidate, is expected to be available early next year.