A mix-up over a campaign donor led the two top fundraisers in the race for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District seat to call names and point fingers Wednesday.
"Robin Smith is playing the same old game we have come to expect from politicos and party bosses," a news release from Chattanooga attorney Chuck Fleischmann's campaign charged. "In attempt to cover up her poor fundraising effort last year, and the fact that Chuck has 2.5 times more cash-on-hand than she does she has, (her campaign) sent out an e-mail accusing Chuck of receiving a donation from a member of Gov. (Phil) Bredesen's cabinet."
Gov. Bredesen is a Democrat. Mr. Fleischmann and Ms. Smith are Republicans.
The e-mail from the campaign of Mrs. Smith, a former Tennessee Republican Party chairwoman, was based on an erroneous report in Tuesday's Chattanooga Times Free Press. That report listed Tennessee Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz as a donor to Mr. Fleischmann's campaign.
* Tommy Crangle: $22,490
* Chuck Fleischmann: $521,893
* Tim Gobble: $54,042
* Van Irion: No report available
* Art Rhodes: $115,056
* Robin Smith: $240,030
* Mark DeVol: $989
* Greg Goodwin: No report available
Source: Federal Election Commission
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As of Wednesday, Mr. Goetz is not listed on the Federal Election Commission's Web site as a donor to the campaign, though he did contribute to former Democratic candidate Paula Flowers' campaign.
Acknowledging that the information was erroneous, Mark Winslow, spokesman for Mrs. Smith's campaign, shot back in a release aimed at Mr. Fleischmann and campaign coordinator Chip Saltsman.
"Mr. Fleischmann and Mr. Saltsman, the 'party boss' on his payroll, have no grounds to lecture anyone on honesty," Mr. Winslow said. "After scraping in a paltry $24,000 in contributions for the final quarter, it is clear Tennesseans have heard Chuck Fleischmann and said, 'No thanks.'"
The GOP field for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., also includes Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble, businessman Tommy Crangle, attorney Van Irion and businessman Art Rhodes. Independent candidates are businessman Mark DeVol and engineer Greg Goodwin.
No Democrats officially have entered the race.
Rep. Wamp is leaving the congressional seat to run for governor.