published Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Weston Wamp, Zach Wamp's son, to challenge Chuck Fleischmann for Congress

by Chris Carroll
Weston Wamp
Contributed photo
Weston Wamp Contributed photo
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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• Qualifying deadline: April 5, 2012

• Primary election: Aug. 2, 2012

• General election: Nov. 6, 2012

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission


Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, which stretches between the Georgia and Kentucky borders, includes nine counties -- Anderson, Bradley, Claiborne, Grainger, Hamilton, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, and Union -- and parts of Jefferson and Roane.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is the fourth Republican elected to the seat since 1963. Republican Bill Brock served from 1963-1971; Republican LaMar Baker served from 1971-1975; Democrat Marilyn Lloyd served from 1975-1995; Republican Zach Wamp served from 1995-2010; Fleischmann was elected in 2010.

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.

"I would like to welcome Weston to the race," Fleischmann said in an emailed statement. "At this time in our nation's history, the more voices in the conversation the better off we all are."

Fleischmann, 48 and an attorney, said he's focused on his job in Washington, adding there will be "a time and a place for campaigning next year when the season is upon us."

Over the course of a 35-minute interview, Weston Wamp steered clear of criticizing Fleischmann. In fact, each fits the tea party blueprint -- the challenger supports a balanced budget amendment and "drastically" reducing government's scope, two themes that resonate with the incumbent.

Wamp's Campaign Announcement
Wamp's Campaign Announcement

Asked how he differs from Fleischmann, Wamp said, "There will be a time when I come out with a fuller platform."

"Chuck Fleischmann -- let me say it this way. Representative Fleischmann has not played much of a role in my decision to run for Congress," Wamp said. "I'm running for Congress because our country desperately needs new ideas and Washington needs fresh blood."

Some issues are unresolved, including whether Chattanoogan Robin Smith will enter the race. The former state Republican Party leader, health care consultant and Wamp family friend narrowly lost a bitter 2010 GOP primary to Fleischmann, and she hasn't announced her 2012 plans.

Oscar Brock, Smith's treasurer, has said Smith will decide early next year whether she will run.

Then there's the money. Fleischmann has $261,470 in cash on hand, including $147,040 raised between March and June. Wamp said an early focus on private-sector businesses would attract "a very competitive amount of money."


Weston Wamp seems to realize that comparisons to his father are inevitable, both from political opponents and the media.

"I watched my father serve in Congress and I learned from him what public service means," he said.

But a campaign news release quoted the candidate a bit differently: "My Dad [sic] and I don't necessarily agree on every issue or every vote."

A reporter asked the obvious: Where do father and son differ? Wamp leaned back, grinned and said, "I knew this was going to happen."

The smile faded and the brow tightened, a familiar clench his father does to this day. Weston Wamp said he opposed Zach Wamp's support of No Child Left Behind, the controversial federal education law, but that wasn't the biggest issue.

"He voted for TARP," Weston Wamp said.

In 2008, Congress passed the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, allowing the government to purchase bank assets and equity to stabilize financial markets.

"I think it was an example of the federal government stepping outside its constitutional role," Weston Wamp said. "But I believe that if people appreciated and respected the way he served the 3rd District, then they will also like the way I go about campaigning and hopefully serving this district as well."

Zach Wamp declined to be interviewed for this article, instead emailing a statement.

"Thank you for the opportunity to add my input," he wrote. "However, this is Weston's moment, not mine. I will be happy to talk to you at a later date."


Weston Wamp would be the youngest Tennessee congressman since 1851, and sometimes you can see the green. For instance, he said he would never be "a career politician" moments before saying he wouldn't set term limits for himself.

He spent his formative years at Chattanooga Christian School and attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he earned a communications degree. After graduation, he joined his father's gubernatorial campaign, making speeches and handling Internet outreach efforts. Now he operates Wamp Strategy, a public relations firm he founded last December.

Wamp said his age matters in the race.

"We cannot afford the government we have," he said. "That's becoming apparent to everyone, but it should be most apparent to people in our generation who are going to have to foot the bill."

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dih2006 said...

"He spent his formative years at Chattanooga Christian" I guess the years he attended McCallie prior to expulsion weren't so formative?

Like father like son, both are schmucks and will never receive my vote. I'm all for having a younger voice in government but not one that merely echoes that of his paternal counterpart.

October 2, 2011 at 12:25 a.m.
ConservMD said...

I like what I'm hearing. At this point in time, the current Congress is in shambles, and young Wamp is right in that it would be a positive turn of events to get a younger voice in Washington.

@dih, did you happen to read the article? Possibly the line mentioning, "my dad and I don't necessarily agree on every issue...".

October 2, 2011 at 12:50 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

I'm sure C-Street frat and cathouse still has daddy's room available for junior.

HIs dad ran on a series of 5 point promises, none of which he ever fulfilled. Zach Wamp campaigned that his kids would attend and be part of the public school system, funny, I didn't know McCallie and Chattanooga Christian were public now. What's that? They're not, he just said it to get elected. How will junior be any different?

October 2, 2011 at 8:34 a.m.
esd1970 said...

Those without sin, may throw the first stone.

October 2, 2011 at 9:58 a.m.
memphisexile said...

What a joke. Wamp got burned when he found out that the people of TN perhaps didn't want some career politician who broke all his campaign promises and instead wanted a guy to had actually worked for a living to be the governor. Telling the people who were unemployed during a recession to stop whining and try harder was definitely a smooth move showing how in touch Wamp is with the common man. Now his son is ready to take over Daddy's seat and when asked how he differs from the current rep, mysteriously says that he will come out with a fuller platform later. The thing is, he has no "fuller platform". He will regurgitate the tea party line, which is no different from Mr. Fleischmann's views. This is about the Wamp family keeping their hooks in a political office, not about changing anything. My favorite line is where Wamp says we need new blood in Washington. I guess Fleischmann with his less than 2 years experience in Congress has now become an experienced corrupt Washington insider. What a joke.

October 2, 2011 at 10:21 a.m.
NoleMole said...

Weston Wamp has ZERO experience, ability and intelligence to represent the 3rd District. Other than his dad 's career in Washington, he has nothing but the arrogance of assuming he's fit to lead. I too wonder why his time at McCallie is being swept under the rug. What's the other choice, Chuck Fleischmann? Good grief, the only choices for representation are a bunch of clowns looking out for themselves and the corporations they want to represent.

October 2, 2011 at 10:31 a.m.
ConservMD said...

@esd brilliant comment. This is day 2 of his campaign, and it sounds like many are throwing stones before doing any research on the candidate.

@noleymoley regarding his intelligence and ability, you must not have paid attention to any of the TN Gov race b/c Weston easily handled his own when filling in for his dad at speaking engagements. Of the debates/roundtables with Haslam and Ramsey I saw, he more than stood toe to toe with Haslam during discussion. Only now he can be a fresh voice to Republican ideals.

For all the naysayers, Fleischmann has done next to nothing productive for the 3rd district in a House that has been very favorable to republicans this term, so what makes him a better choice than Wamp.

October 2, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.
congressman said...

Draft Tres Wittum For Congress 2012 Wittum cares about Tennessee and seeing his generation rise to meet the challenges that have been passed down. Unlike others, he has built his own name and we admire his courage, integrity, and honor. Tres is championing the message that will return our nation to its status as a “shining city on a hill”: personal responsibility, individual freedom, and moral integrity.

October 2, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.
Lucas said...

He did not get expelled from McCallie. That is a straight up lie.

October 2, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.
gertrude said...

I think it's laughable that people with ZERO knowledge about Weston just start hurling false accusations. Here's to hoping Weston keeps it classier than these posters on the campaign trail.

I for one am happy that there will now be a choice next year, not an auto-reelection like so often is the case.

October 2, 2011 at 1:03 p.m.
Facts said...

Choices for 3rd District: Incumbent who lied to get elected (small businessman only in stature, not experience); Daddy's boy who slammed Gov. Haslam for being Daddy's boy; & a draft movement for a career-student who frosts his hair.

I, like a lot of people, worked hard against the candidate who should've won & would've likely busted some status-quo chops by now, instead of playing lapdog. I guess we'll see if the business community has enough guts to apologize & support the lady who should be our Representative.

October 2, 2011 at 2:01 p.m.
patriot1 said...

Get a job son!!! The last thing we need is another RINO like his dad!

October 2, 2011 at 2:06 p.m.
northchattvoter said...

Congressman Fleischmann is doing a great job! Too bad these self-serving losers are getting in the race to hurt their own party. TripleTwittum will soon join the losers also. He was out lying about candidates in the last race. Will Wamp and blondie please go away when they lose AGAIN this time?

October 2, 2011 at 3:02 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Weston Wamp doesn't have a chance in Hell of getting the nomination. He is probably using this as a stumping ground to get into politics. He would be much better off doing something good in the private sector first, rather than using daddy's money in an effort to get daddy's old job.

October 2, 2011 at 10:22 p.m.
boonhower said...

I know fathers are supposed to teach their sons a trade and pass on the skills they learned from their fathers, but when it's politics they pass on and the son runs for daddy's seat, it makes me gag. Sorry Weston, but I prefer my Congressmen to not look like they just came from the FIJI house party. At least try to appear as if you've accomplished something in life before you assume your "rightful" place that you "deserve."

October 2, 2011 at 11:08 p.m.
EastRidger said...

I am not a native of the 3rd District but I can not imagine that people would elect someone so young and worse yet someone with such a thin resume to such an important job as a United States Congressman.

I am not sure if I can tell exatly what Weston does for a living? How big is this company? How much revenue does it generate?

I guess Sen. Corker is lucky that the minimum age for the U.S. Senate is 30 years old or else Weston would be coming after him! Howard Baker, Bill Brock, Bill Frist, Fred Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker and Weston Wamp. There is nothing like starting at the top.

October 3, 2011 at 12:50 a.m.
timbo said...

ConservMD..... What are you smoking? I quess the same thing as both he and his daddy did. Weston Wamp is a chip off the old block. His daddy had no experience, a checkered past, and no accomplishments. He had some rich, influential supporters and a wish to be a professional politician.

The fact that a no-nothing, done nothing, little piss ant would say, "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." shows what an arrogant little boy he really is.

There are two wings of the Republican party. The first one is in power. It is the Decosimo, Corker, Haslaam, wing which helped defeat the little Wamp's daddy. Then there is the Harold Coker, Wamp, etc. wing who want's power. Is this the best they can do? What a joke.

The Wamp's are prime examples of why this country is trouble. Two people with no experience or accomplishment in business or otherwise that think they are entitled to high office because of their connections and their sense of royalty. Wamp's candidacy is an insult to hard-working job producers. In other words he is a republican Obama. Give me a break, he hasn't ever had a real job and lives at home.

If the tea party supports this boy they will cease to have any relevance.

October 3, 2011 at 7:17 a.m.
ejohnson017 said...

I admire Weston Wamp for trying to get into the game. I just think there is more ego here than ability. He is just too young. My 26 year old son is not ready for those decisions and he is finishing medical school. Fleischmann has done a good job for the most part. If these are my options Chuck has my vote.

October 3, 2011 at 8:33 a.m.
ibshame said...

So the choice for the Third Congressional District comes down to Fleischmann and a 2nd generation Wamp. It's like making a choice between Nothing and less than nothing.

October 3, 2011 at 9:26 a.m.
Facts said...

If my business partners wouldn't be impacted by the negatives that could come from the Flieschmann office, I'd publish my name & publicly apologize for working against Robin Smith. But I can't. The folks who put Flieschmann into office are still in hiding due to their shame & Weston Wamp's supporters are the folks who were living life off the teat of grants at the hands of Daddy Wamp. In this area, it's become more important to elect someone who makes promises to either fit in or not rock the boat. Since Flieschmann's shown us how to win, the pattern's set. You either need a family name or a wad to fund yourself. Both dishonor public service.

October 3, 2011 at 10:28 a.m.
NorthChattphat said...

this is a joke right? this guy thinks we need some "new blood" in the race huh? well if that is the case, maybe i should run for public office then. at 26, i have leaps and bounds more experience with the private and public sectors, than both whittum or wamp. wamp is only running because he is a spoiled child that wants to be a spoiled adult, just like his old man (career politician). wamp's idea of "new blood" is virtually nothing more than handing down the torch from one incompetency to the next, delivering the next generation of ego problems to public office. career politicians and no nothings, especially ones with absolutely no experience with a real job, or with making decisions based on other people's money, are exactly the antithesis of what the state of TN as well as the rest of the country desires. as for tres, get a job in the private sector for a while, prove your worthiness, and come back, there is no place for career politics with no real work history at 25-26. despite what they have taught you in communication school, a good speaker doesn't always make for a good leader or politician, look at BHO (enormous failure). both of you guys should just save your money to buy a house or a car or something, don't waste it on running.

October 3, 2011 at 11:13 a.m.
Gingerkid said...

Too soon, Weston, way too soon. The phrase "born on third base and claiming to have hit a triple" comes to mind. More than any other reason not to vote for Weston, the arrogance and plain old lack of respect are top on my list. The suggestion that any 24 year old (especially one who is unmarried and has no children) is a proper selection for Congress is disturbing.

October 3, 2011 at 3:38 p.m.
BillVol said...

Weston knows he won't win this time. And probably not the next time or the next. But he can afford to keep running, and he knows eventually he will win. Just like his dad did. Because voters are stupid. They really are. Weston knows this.

By the way, shame on Zach for letting him do this. Surely if he'd advised against this, Weston would have listened.

Zach Wamp: Only in America...

October 3, 2011 at 11:59 p.m.
timbo said...

BillVol.... Maybe he can be the Republican John Wolfe. He is a joke already.

October 4, 2011 at 7:33 a.m.
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