IF YOU GO
• What: Grand opening of congressional campaign headquarters for Dr. Jean Howard-Hill
• When: 3-5 p.m. today; Howard-Hill expected to speak at 4 p.m.
• Where: 5323 Brainerd Road, Suite 104
• Admission: Free
• Source: Jean Howard-Hill for Congress
Jean Howard-Hill officially opens her GOP congressional campaign headquarters today with a two-hour event focused on donations of all kinds.
The political science professor and perennial candidate who calls herself "Lady J" wants canned goods, paper towels, toiletries, blankets and other household items for the elderly.
"Dr. Howard-Hill has a special love for her senior citizens," said a campaign news release, which soon cut to the chase: "The Lady J Team is willing to accept donations at the event and a donation box will be there for those who wish to support the campaign."
Howard-Hill's financial viability is unclear because she hasn't filed fundraising information with the Federal Election Commission since announcing her candidacy in September.
In a recent Times Free Press interview, Howard-Hill, 58, said she would accept donations large or small, including "one, two, three, four or five dollars a month." That strategy could net her $50,000 before the end of the year, she said.
When she ran for Congress last year, she received less than 1 percent of GOP primary vote.
Howard-Hill emphasized free admission to today's event, attempting to distinguish herself from U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, the 3rd Congressional District's Republican incumbent and leading fundraiser.
On Oct. 27, Fleischmann hosted a by-invitation-only event featuring House Speaker John Boehner that required between $1,000 and $10,000 for admission, depending on what donors wanted to give.
In response, Howard-Hill blitzed the media with a news release titled [sic]: "Lady J Say Fleischmann Treating Congress Like a Whore."
"Now if this is not prostitution, I don't know what is," the release said. "Bigger than life politicians who would prostitute even themselves for the money."
At the time and again Friday, Fleischmann declined to comment through a spokesman.
Weston Wamp, the 24-year-old son of former Congressman Zach Wamp, is the other GOP candidate in the race, which has attracted no Democrats, independents or third-party candidates.
Chris Carroll covers federal politics for the Times Free Press. A Chattanooga native, he went to Red Bank High School and graduated with honors from East Tennessee State University. Chris investigated violent crime, municipal government and hospitals before taking the political beat. For tornado coverage, he and Pam Sohn won a first-place Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors deadline reporting award. In 2010, Chris won the Golden Press Card Award of Merit and another deadline reporting ...