published Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Scottie Mayfield considers bid for Congress


by Chris Carroll

Poll
Who would you support for the 3rd Congressional District?

Tennessee's milkman said he needs to "get enough information to understand what I'm doing" before he decides whether to run for Congress.

"It's a heck of a responsibility," Scottie Mayfield said Wednesday. "Somebody's going to allow me to look at a congressional schedule, what a member of Congress does every day of their life."

Mayfield, the 61-year-old president of Mayfield Dairy in Athens, Tenn., announced Wednesday he is considering a run against U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.

The news adds a tantalizing scoop to an already flavorful Republican primary for the 3rd District race.

He said he would decide within two weeks.

The dairy mogul said he gathered family and friends around his dining room table Wednesday to discuss issues and explore possibilities. He said he may use Mayfield's 1,800 employees as an informal focus group.

"I've got to make sure that's not against company policy first," he said with a laugh.

Mayfield said his own business expertise is needed in Congress, but also said "it's hard to be real critical" of Fleischmann.

Asked what he would fight for in Washington, Mayfield said jobs and reducing the national debt, but did not elaborate.

"You're asking about a platform and I'm not that far along," he said. "But I know listening to consumers is the same as listening to your constituents. We don't make the right flavor of ice cream, we don't sell them well."

Fleischmann gave a statement through spokesman Jordan Powell.

"I'm a fan of Mayfield ice cream, and I really love their ice cream sandwiches, and we'll find out with everybody else whether or not he's going to run in the next couple weeks," Fleischmann said in the statement.

Mayfield said he has thought about being in Congress since college, but newly drawn congressional district lines "make the timing right." His family farm is in Athens, which recently was drawn into Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District.

Athens used to be part of the Knoxville-centric 2nd District, where U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan has held office since 1988. Fleischmann is in his first term in the 3rd District.

Fleischmann already has three GOP challengers, including Weston Wamp, the 24-year-old son of former Congressman Zach Wamp. According to federal campaign finance records, Mayfield donated $1,750 to the elder Wamp between 1998 and 2001.

Mayfield said Weston Wamp asked to meet with him after getting wind that he might run.

"He would be a better candidate if he had just a little more life experience than he has," Mayfield said.

Wamp confirmed he met with Mayfield last week.

"If experience were such an important factor in serving well in Congress, we shouldn't have any problem with our current Congress, which is obviously very dysfunctional," Wamp said.

Chattanooga businessman Ron Bhalla and political science professor Jean Howard-Hill are the other two GOP candidates.

Union County physician Dr. Mary Headrick and Ooltewah businessman Bill Taylor have announced for the Democratic nomination.

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