published Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Scottie Mayfield rebuffs term limit critics

by Chris Carroll

Scottie Mayfield's self-imposed term-limit pledge is attracting criticism from both sides of the political aisle, but the dairy executive appears to be standing firm.

Mark Caldwell, a conservative blogger from Lookout Mountain, said Mayfield missed the point of term limits when the dairy executive promised to serve no more than 10 years if he unseats U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District Republican primary.

In a newsletter emailed Friday to mostly Republican activists, Caldwell skewered Mayfield's belief that a term-limit pledge "creates the opportunity to vote for what the member believes is right" on controversial issues that might otherwise jeopardize re-election.

"Limiting congressional terms," Caldwell wrote, "has nothing to do with how a member of Congress votes."

Caldwell said term limits are important for a different reason -- to limit "power and money which ensures their perpetual re-election and undermines the democratic process." He called Mayfield "clueless" and advised Republican primary voters to "stay vigilant against this menace."

A Mayfield campaign spokesman did not respond to requests for comment, but Paul K. Brock Jr., Mayfield's finance chairman, praised the candidate's pledge.

"I'm not sure we have to defend ourselves," Brock said. "Once you get elected and re-elected for a second term, it becomes very difficult to get people out of office. I'm very comfortable with Scottie's position."

Besides independent candidate Matthew Deniston, Mayfield is the 3rd District race's only proponent of term limits.

Mary Headrick, a physician running in the 3rd District Democratic primary, slammed a separate piece of Mayfield's pledge in a statement released Friday afternoon.

"Term limits risk losing the institutional memory applied by a true statesman," Headrick said. "Without that knowledge, the office could easily become a staff-dominated position in which D.C. insiders, including hired staff and lobbyists, ultimately make the decisions."

Brock rejected Headrick's reasoning.

"It would be good to lose some of the institutional memory because the performance hasn't been too good up there, quite frankly," he said.

Fleischmann has said elections every two years already make House lawmakers accountable to voters.

His predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, promised to serve six terms and served eight.

Wamp's 25-year-old son, Weston, also is challenging Fleischmann in the Republican primary. The younger Wamp recently announced his opposition to term limits.

Bill Taylor is Headrick's opponent in the Democratic primary and Ron Bhalla is the other Republican challenging Fleischmann. Both men oppose personal term limits.

Primaries are Aug. 2.

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