published Sunday, July 20th, 2014

This is the year to cross the aisle; Dems, cross over for Wamp

Early voting began Friday, and in Tennessee much is at stake.

This is especially true for Democrats, moderate Republicans and Independents who hope to see congressional gridlock loosen so our government can function again.

For Tennesseans, the most pivotal of our national primary races is for the 3rd District House of Representatives seat, now held by Republican Chuck Fleischmann.

Fleischmann is a signer of the Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge, and he made it clear earlier this month in a debate sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press and WTCI-TV that he thinks any compromise with lawmakers across the aisle is akin to rolling in small pox.

In other words, he has no intention of taking part in the kind of solution-seeking conversations necessary to govern.

He must not be re-elected.

Fleischmann's challenger on the Republican primary ballot is Weston Wamp, a young innovator who grew up watching politics while his father, Zach Wamp, held the 3rd District House seat for 16 years.

Unopposed on the Democratic primary ticket is Dr. Mary Headrick -- a fine and capable candidate who also is a mother, a grandmother, and a physician with degrees in mathematics and computer science. She will take on the winner of the Aug. 7 Republican primary between Fleischmann and Wamp.

But in this Republican-dominated state and region, all of us need to make sure we have the best possible two candidates to choose from come November -- and therefore some insurance of a good representative come January.

Someone who, by his own words, cannot be part of a negotiation and compromise to govern is not that best candidate, nor that good future representative.

In the local debate recently, Fleischmann made his anti-government, tea-party leaning position quite clear: "Everything the federal government touches, it messes up," he said. "The problem is, this is a broken system."

Clearly he's simply forgotten that as a member of the House of Representatives, he then also is "broken."

At another point in his anti-compromising rants, Fleischmann tried to take credit for what was largely Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander's doing to inch the Chickamauga Lock funding a bit closer.

"But first it had to pass the House ... and I didn't have to go over and sing like a liberal to Nancy Pelosi to get that done," Fleischmann said with derision.

Of course, the funding still isn't there for the Chickamauga Lock's completion, and Fleischmann still won't commit to vote for a user-fee sought by barge companies to help finish work there. In a meeting last week with Times Free Press editorial writers, he acknowledged that he has been told that a user fee wouldn't break the Norquist anti-tax pledge. Still, he wouldn't commit to it.

He refers to the sequester and government shutdown as a time of "weaning" folks from excessive government spending.

Seriously? Were unpaid Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military Park workers "weaned" from their livelihoods? Were the employees of the Oak Ridge Laboratory "weaned" from their paydays? Only federal workers deemed "essential" to keep working were eventually paid back, but virtually all of the "non-essential" furloughed workers appealing for repayment have gone unpaid, according to, a news daily website for federal managers and executives.

Does this sound like a congressman who is working for the Tennessee Valley? Absolutely not.

Wamp, on the other hand, doesn't believe that more than 40 votes to repeal Obamacare (Fleischmann would cast that same vote 100 times, he says) is the right fix for a law that Wamp also believes is inadequate. But Wamp says offering no alternative other than repeal isn't the solution, either.

"Even our founding father's didn't get everything right -- we still had slavery (when they finished the Constitution). But they kept working on it. ... This fear (of compromise) has gone too far."

In this Republican primary, voters must cast their GOP ballot for Wamp and send Fleischmann home.

And so should Democrats. This is the perfect time for a crossover vote in East Tennessee. Mary Headrick already is the clear winner of the Democratic primary. And she will be an able candidate in the Nov. 4 General Election.

Democrats cannot miss this opportunity to help Republicans ensure that all of us have a congressman or congresswoman who truly believes in government and understands how to make it work for us again.

Walk across that aisle with a GOP ballot in August, and let's send Chuck Fleischmann back home to be a collections attorney again.

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Stupid piece. This just illustrates why we need another party or term limits.

No, the potential of not being reelected does not count as a term limit. I mean a term limit. That way we won't have political dynasties and professional politicians.

July 20, 2014 at 6:43 a.m.
LibDem said...

I can see the practical aspect for Democrats: support the lesser evil. Nevertheless, it's the Republican primary and I'm not one. They should be allowed to choose their own evil.

July 20, 2014 at 9:37 a.m.
Plato said...

I agree with the thrust of this piece. I'm a moderate Democrat but let's face it, this district was gerrymandered to make sure Republicans always get elected in national races, and it's likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future, so let's pick the better of the two available.

As a retired business owner and someone who works with startups myself, I am somewhat familiar with the work of the Lamp Post Group which Wamp served as communication directer. It is outstanding organization that has been instrumental in assisting start ups with venture capital and in-house resources to help them get started. They do good work and create jobs.

Wamp's critics say he is too inexperienced for the job. Well let's see, he doesn't have experience in shutting down the government and costing the taxpayers $25 Billion in the process, and he doesn't have experience in voting against health care 40 times. Maybe what we need is a little LESS of that kind of experience.

Wamp says he wants to work with whoever else is up there to find solutions - I say let's give him a shot.

July 20, 2014 at 9:42 a.m.
sagoyewatha said...

Apparently, "Cootie," is a pet project for the TFP,doing everything it can to get this boy elected to an office he is not ready for. Better to throw him back in and let him mature a while. There IS a difference between age and maturity.

July 20, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

"Flash"man is a puppet; Pinocchio was smarter. I say vote for Wamp!

July 20, 2014 at 11:27 a.m.
LibDem said...

We don't want a newby because he has no experience. We don't want a career politician because he does have experience.

July 20, 2014 at 12:05 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

Better to have someone with zero seniority that let Chuckie run wild, I'm voting Red in the primary.

July 20, 2014 at 7:49 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

I will be casting my vote for Wamp. All of the anti-Establishment GOP'ers that run rampant on this site sure like to back the Establishment GOP candidate in Chuck. Chuck has done nothing for District 3 other then proudly taking his marching orders from Boehner. I do have concern that Wamp may behave the same, but it's worth the risk.

July 21, 2014 at 9:20 a.m.
timbo said...

This is wrong and you democrats know it. If the tables were turned you would be howling. Wamp is a spoiled, immature, arrogant, inexperienced little whelp. That is enough reason not to vote for him. He is dangerous.

He will do whatever it takes to stay in office just like his old man did.

July 21, 2014 at 12:58 p.m.
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