Weston Wamp said he raised $175,133 in the year's first political fundraising quarter, potentially narrowing the vast financial distance between him and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.
The 25-year-old Republican son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp announced his three-month haul two weeks before the government's deadline for submitting a campaign finance disclosure in the 3rd Congressional District race.
But an adviser for Fleischmann, the elder Wamp's successor and a first-term Republican, said the congressman raised about $200,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31 and counted at least $750,000 after first-quarter expenses. Wamp's after-expenses total was $436,080, his aides said.
Wamp likely gained little, if any, ground since the previous fundraising quarter, which ended Dec. 31. Back then, Wamp finished $332,000 behind Fleischmann after expenses. The new spread is likely to be about the same.
Meanwhile, Fleischmann's other well-known Republican challenger, Mayfield Dairy President Scottie Mayfield, declined to release his fundraising totals early.
"At this point we have no plans to release those figures," campaign manager Bo Patten wrote in an email.
Fleischmann aides said they were still counting checks that came in Friday and Saturday.
"We'll have a final total in a couple of days," Fleischmann campaign manager Tyler Threadgill said.
Wamp aides said they've spent less than 10 percent of what the campaign has raised thus far.
"We haven't bought the first sign," Wamp campaign manager Bonnie Brezina said. "We're being very frugal."
Neither Wamp nor Fleischmann has contributed personal funds, their advisers said. Fleischmann spent about $600,000 of his own money in his successful 2010 bid to replace Zach Wamp, who vacated the 3rd District seat after eight terms to run for governor. The Fleischmann campaign spent $1.3 million overall in 2010.
If they've raised or spent at least $5,000, congressional candidates must file with the Federal Election Commission quarterly reports documenting contributions and expenditures. The deadline to file is April 15.
Other candidates appear behind in the money race. A news release for one of the Democrats in the race, Ooltewah businessman Bill Taylor, said he raised $30,000 during the quarter.
Chattanooga businessman Ron Bhalla, a Republican in the race, said he has spent about $20,000, but declined to say how much he had raised or had left. In a phone interview, he compared himself to Rick Santorum, the Republican presidential candidate who eventually emerged from the pack despite being low on funds.
Another GOP challenger, political science professor Jean-Howard Hill, declined to release her totals.
"I have made raising money the last thing on my campaign to-do list, simply because I am not willing to play the game and continue to perpetrate this kind of political money fraud on the people" Howard-Hill wrote in a news release.
Democratic candidate Mary Headrick could not be reached Monday evening.
Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at email@example.com or 423-757-6610.