published Friday, April 20th, 2012

For Chuck Fleischmann, an easy endorsement from Cantor, not Corker


by Chris Carroll

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., endorsed two local Republican incumbents, U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Chuck Fleischmann, at a DesJarlais fundraiser this morning at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also spoke on behalf of DesJarlais. But after the event, the former Chattanooga mayor wouldn’t say whether he’ll endorse Fleischmann, the Scenic City’s first-term congressman facing two well-known, deep-pocketed GOP challengers.

“I’m basically not involved in the 3rd [Congressional] District race right now and haven’t been,” Corker said, adding that scheduling conflicts prevented him from speaking at Fleischmann events. “We weren’t able to pull them together just because of either House votes or Senate votes.”

Asked point-blank if he felt Fleischmann is a better candidate than his two high-profile opponents — dairy executive Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp, the 25-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp — Corker walked away.

“I’m just — you know, you all are doing a great job,” Corker told reporters.

Cantor spoke on behalf of DesJarlais at the $500-a-head breakfast fundraiser at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club.

He’s expected to do the same for Fleischmann later today at a $1,000-per-person lunch event at a Knoxville steakhouse.

“Chuck is a principled conservative,” Cantor said. “He is dedicated to trying to do the right thing, to set the moral compass of the nation back on track.”

DesJarlais is running against state Rep. Eric Stewart, D-Belvedere, in Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has allocated resources to Stewart’s cause, signifying that national Democrats see it as a winnable race.

The DCCC hasn’t gotten involved in the 3rd District race, which has been won by Republicans since 1994.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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