published Monday, May 21st, 2012

Fleischmann, Wamp, Bhalla trade shots in UTC debate


by Chris Carroll
Republican candidates for the 3rd Congressional District, from left, Weston Wamp, Ron Bhalla and current U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann participate in the 3rd Congressional District Republican Debate held on Monday at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Roland Hayes Concert Hall.
Republican candidates for the 3rd Congressional District, from left, Weston Wamp, Ron Bhalla and current U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann participate in the 3rd Congressional District Republican Debate held on Monday at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Roland Hayes Concert Hall.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse.
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Weston Wamp questioned U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann’s congressional credentials during an aggressive debate on Monday, attempting to define Fleischmann as an inflexible creature of Washington in the fight for the Republican nomination in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District.

With the Aug. 2 primary election only two months away, Fleischmann arrived at a crucial moment of his re-election effort armed with a defense of his record and a list of shots targeted toward Wamp’s perceived inexperience as the 25-year-old son of the congressman’s immediate predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp.

Several times, Fleischmann described Weston Wamp’s reasoning as incorrect, inaccurate and, using a baseball analogy to describe a trio of answers, “0-for-3.”

Unbowed, Fleischmann’s young rival claimed to be the most powerful advocate on local issues like the Chickamauga Lock and the most energetic person ever to run for Congress.

It was Fleischmann’s first time to be publicly confronted by a challenger with considerable name recognition, an uncomfortable position often passed up by incumbents running for re-election.

He was forced into the hot seat time and again, with Wamp and Chattanooga businessman Ron Bhalla acting as a tag team attacking his first and only term in Congress.

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