published Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Chuck Fleischmann's competition: Scottie Mayfield, Weston Wamp and more...

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann's freshman tenure as Tennessee's 3rd District congressman has been on shaky ground since he squeaked out a victory over Robin Smith in a wildly splintered primary in 2010. Lagging fund raising and a wide perception that House Speaker John Boehner has had him on a voting leash the last 15 months has hurt Fleischmann, as well.

So when Weston Wamp, the son of Zach -- Fleischmann's immediate predecessor -- rolled up a slam-dunk $250,000 fund-raiser last December to ignite his campaign for his father's old seat months before he turned 25, the minimum age for a congressman, it was game on.

The youthful Wamp's 3rd District record-setting fund-raiser not only netted about $50,000 more than the $200,000 that Speaker Boehner pulled in for Fleischmann in an elite Walden Club fund-raiser two months earlier. It also made clear that Fleischmann could be successfully targeted even after Boehner had come and gone.

That might have been the pivotal moment that persuaded Scottie Mayfield, the Athens, Tenn., patriarch of Mayfield Dairy Farms, that there was higher ground for another career.

Whatever the case, Mayfield's entry -- and already roaring fund-raising machine -- surely has both Fleischmann and Wamp on notice that the August GOP primary race will be tighter than imagined. Indeed, it's a good question as to how the race will shake out.

Mayfield's campaign entry, officially noted as Feb. 3, seems particularly auspicious. Despite beginning his fund-raising 34 days into the current reporting quarter, he managed to rake in $450,648 in contributions by the end of March, an average of $64,000 per week for that seven-week window. And that's without having had time to appoint fund-raising coordinators and committees in each of the 3rd District's counties. That he hasn't yet articulated a platform or a short-list of political priorities obviously doesn't bother Mayfield's strategist, former Tennessee Republican Party chairman Tommy Hopper.

"People are going to be very pleased with Scottie's views," Hopper said , "but we have our own timetable" for revealing them.

So, on to the money. Mayfield's cash infusion instantly makes him competitive with Fleischmann, who raised $200,000 in the first quarter and says he has about $750,000 in cash on hand; and with Wamp, who raised $175,133 in the first quarter, and reportedly has $436,080 on hand. Mayfield's business acumen and deep business connections in the district also set him apart.

Though Fleischmann is the incumbent, he doesn't have much of a record to run on, nor can he yet claim much congressional experience, expertise or political depth. Since taking office in January 2011, he hasn't had enough time, or enough on the ball, to earn wide recognition or loyalty.

His cold shoulder to public debates and prime-time interviews in the last election weakened him, too. He could easily be seen now as the anonymous guy who got to Congress on a fluke ballot, and has little to show for it. His tea party wing has criticized him for not toeing their reactionary line on budget-and-debt ceiling votes. More moderate voters can only see a lack of progress and bipartisanship in the stalemated House, whose GOP members seem mainly determined to whack Medicare, Social Security and women's rights.

Voters have a right to expect more.

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sandyonsignal said...

Mayfield hasn't given a reason for running to anyone. He indicated to Times Free Press that he was fine with Fleischmann's positions. So why run? Fleishcmann's votes include: kill Medicare, kill Medicaid, more pollution in our rivers, streams and air, and protect life unless you are a woman. I know I have a problem with Fleishcmann's votes.

Mayfield's lack of stance shows he isn't representative of the middle and poorer classes in Tennessee. He's just another rich guy who inherited his wealth and cares only of his own people.

April 10, 2012 at 7:03 a.m.
chet123 said...

DARN....DONT MAYFIELD HAVE ENOUGH MILLIONS.......SO HES TRYING TO COMPOUND HIS MILLIONS WHILE THE WORKING CLASS INCOME IN THIS AREA ARE STEADILY DROPPING.....SORRY SCOTTIE......EAST TENNESSEE CANT AFFORD YOU AND YOUR RICH AND GREEDY IDEALS.....

April 10, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.
chet123 said...

VOTE FOR WAMP!

April 10, 2012 at 10:49 a.m.
nurseforjustice said...

it is very funny that the previous 2 to comment on this article are both known Democrats. Neither one of them have a dog in the hunt since they would not vote for a conservative if their life depended on it.

Very funny indeed. =)

April 10, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

nurseforjustice said... it is very funny that the previous 2 to comment on this article are both known Democrats. Neither one of them have a dog in the hunt since they would not vote for a conservative if their life depended on it.

. That would be true if YOU could predict the future. But you have no idea who is going to vote for who. Surely you don't believe everything you hear. We ALL have a dog in this fight. I hope to help vote these knuckle draggers out, but I will go vote for who I please and will comment on what I please. That really is it in a nutshell. Have some respect! Nurse? It is like the mentality of "It's my ball, so you can't play" sheesh, grow up!

April 10, 2012 at 3:37 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

I am a Democrat, and it's obvious that Mayfield just won this race.

Mayfield won this race when he entered. Chattanoogans will elect a successful businessman and farmer. They will not bother to ask or know about his policy positions. Even if he screws up horribly in his first term, he's likely to be re-elected.

I wish we had a stronger Democratic presence in this area, but we don't. The cold reality is that Republicans repeatedly win. We have not put forth Democratic candidates to slug it out on the low IQ level used by Republicans. Instead of getting involved in public policy, we read books and watch Republicans pay off their rich pals.

It may actually be a blessing for us all that this apparently clueless Mayfield wants to dabble in politics. Wild card. Maybe he'll be good. We'll probably discover his beliefs are horrifyingly backward, but it may not matter. He's currently low on the local, city-based payoff list; so, he'll look like he's an uncorrupted choice. Meanwhile, your business doesn't get that big by being a pushover or a Pollyanna.

Everyone who's run to the store, chugged a gallon of milk or scooped some ice cream has been looking at his political advertisements for the past 25+ years. The Golden Gallon partnership with Mayfield pretty much put a lock on a distributorship that put this man's name in many households. Men, women, children: they all recognize his name.

His squeeky clean image is something out of an episode of "Leave It To Beaver." None of these lawyers or slimeball politicos are going to be able to compete with this. His competition will be sent packing back to the cigar rooms and country clubs to try to have a synergy session on how they screwed this one up.

Prayer breakfast at Wally's will be devoted to hoping the ice cream man doesn't uncover real estate corruption.

Ragsdale at the Country Club will have to serve up more liquor to lubricate the discussions on how we're going to hide localized corruption from Mayfield while asking him to provide federal funds to promote it, without his knowledge.

Good luck trying to nail this guy in a sex scandal. What kind of negative advertising is he going to be hit with? Excessive cow poop? None of it will stick. Chattanoogans will elect the ice cream man.

We understand it. It's sold. Mayfield will win the race.

Mayfield has cultivated name recognition and a reputation for quality in local business products. End of story. There is no one on the ballot capable of competing with this.

He'll win in a landslide.

April 10, 2012 at 4:56 p.m.

At least the cartoons will be plentiful.

April 10, 2012 at 8:18 p.m.
acerigger said...

328Kwebsite ,you've probably nailed it, but maybe Scottie is only interested in the social life of Washington at this point. I mean,he may figure it's time to party since his life thus far has been so sedate?

April 10, 2012 at 9:54 p.m.
chet123 said...

GIVE WAMP A CHANCE.......WE CANT AFFORD A RICH GUY WHO HAVE BENEFITED FROM A BROKEN SYSTEM THAT HURTS THE MIDDLE-CLASS

MAYFIELD IS LOOKING FOR HIS OWN INTEREST...THIS MAN IS WORTH MILLIONS AND MILLIONS....YOU THINK HE NEED 122,000 PAY FROM CONGRESS....THATS CHICKEN FEED TO SCOTTIE...HE SEE A BIGGER PICTURE

April 12, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.
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