3rd DISTRICT CANDIDATES
* Republican Chuck Fleischmann
* Democrat John Wolfe
* Independents: Savas Kyriakidis, Don Barkman, Mark DeVol, Gregory C. Goodwin, Robert Humphries and Mo Kiah
KEY ELECTION DATES
Oct. 4: : Last day to register to vote in Nov. 2 election
Oct. 13-28: Early voting
Nov. 2: Election Day
Source: Tennessee Division of Elections
With less than five weeks before early voting starts, the eight candidates in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District don’t have any plans for face-to-face debates.
But there could be at least a couple of joint appearances before local business groups by Republican nominee Chuck Fleischmann and Democrat nominee John Wolfe.
The two have been invited to appear jointly before the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce later this month on Sept. 23 and before the Chattanooga Board of Realtors on Oct. 6.
The Downtown Council of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce scrapped its plans for an Oct. 7 all-candidate forum when the group couldn’t get Fleischmann and some of the independents to appear. Fleischmann, who is favored in the GOP-leaning district, says he hasn’t decided about debating.
“I’m campaigning all over the district and, at this point, we’re still in the talking stage where we haven’t ruled anything in or anything out,” said Fleischmann, the Chattanooga attorney who won the 11-person Republican field in the Aug. 5 primary.
Wolfe, also a Chattanooga attorney, challenged Fleischmann last month to debate in all 11 counties of the 3rd District, which stretches from Georgia to the Kentucky state line through Chattanooga, Cleveland and Oak Ridge.
Wolfe said Wednesday he is willing to appear with or without the six independent candidates.
For Wolfe, joint appearances before the Cleveland Chamber and the Chattanooga Realtors, if finalized, would still be more than he got in his 2002 and 2004 congressional campaigns against U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.
“I think having debates this year is especially critical because neither of us are incumbents or even won our respective party nominations by big margins,” Wolfe said. “So the people need to see and hear us so they can judge [us] side by side.”
Fleischmann said he appeared with Wolfe and other candidates at forums before the August primary and he is confident voters know the “dramatic differences” in their views.
“He [Wolfe] is liberal left and I’m conservative right and I think I’m much more in line with the views of the people of the 3rd District,” Fleischmann said.
David Brodsky, a professor of political science at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said Fleischmann enjoys the most money, name recognition and endorsements and is the favorite to succeed Wamp.
“The 3rd District is still reliably Republican, and I don’t see that a debate, as worthwhile for voters as that may be, would likely change the outcome,” Brodsky said.
Early voting for the Nov. 2 election begins Oct. 13.