Two years ago, onetime dairy executive Scottie Mayfield raised a record amount of money as he campaigned in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.
Mayfield finished second in the 2012 Republican primary, then largely faded from the public eye.
Now his influence -- even as a noncandidate -- is being brought to bear in the race he once wanted to win.
On Tuesday, Mayfield joined Fleischmann's re-election team, lending his name to the incumbent's campaign and leaving more of the fundraising and electoral pie available for him.
Mayfield said after his 2012 loss that he would be staying out of politics, but Monday he said he was supporting Fleischmann to "set the record straight."
"Over the past few weeks, I've had calls from friends and associates who said they heard from other candidates that I would be supporting them," Mayfield said Monday at a Chattanooga campaign event for the congressman. "I support [Fleischmann] and I encourage any of the people who supported me to support Chuck as well."
Mayfield did not name candidate and former opponent Weston Wamp specifically -- but Wamp was the only other announced Republican candidate for the post as of Monday.
Democratic candidate Mary M. Headrick has picked up papers to seek the post.
Mayfield is president emeritus of Mayfield Dairy Farms in McMinn County.
Fleischmann named Mayfield an honorary chairman of his campaign -- a title that holds little to no responsibility.
"It's whatever Scottie Mayfield wants it to be," Fleischmann said.
Fleischmann then went on to say if elected to a third term, he would continue to represent "the greatest people in the world" and work to fix Washington, D.C.
Shortly after the announcement, Wamp, the 26-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, said Mayfield's announcement was retaliation for something his younger sister, Coty Wamp, did during the last campaign.
"In a respectful face-to-face conversation with Mr. Mayfield on Saturday, I was disappointed to hear that a grudge he holds against my younger sister from our last campaign influenced his endorsement decision more than his actual support for Congressman Fleischmann," Weston Wamp said.
A candid You Tube video of Mayfield alleged to have been made by Coty Wamp during the last campaign was posted in 2012 and titled "Scottie Mayfield Struggling to Answer Basic Questions."
Weston Wamp said the endorsement shows that Fleischmann's campaign is nervous. He said his team has raised $300,000 in nine weeks and expected more from a large fundraiser planned Monday evening.
Fleisch-mann, an Ooltewah Republican, won five of the 3rd District's 11 counties in 2012, but he didn't win a majority. Mayfield and Weston Wamp split a 60 percent anti-incumbent vote, giving Fleischmann an eight-point plurality. Fleisch-mann took 39 percent of votes in the district; Mayfield got 31 percent; Wamp 29 percent and Ron Bhalla got 1 percent.
Federal campaign finance reports show Fleischmann raised $592,606 in 2013, but data for 2014 was not posted.
Reports show Wamp raised $668,002 by December 2012, but current reports were not available.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon @timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6481.
Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...