published Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Democrat Bill Taylor shooting for dollars


by Chris Carroll
  • photo
    Bill Taylor is a Democratic candidate for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

* What: Candidate Shootout Challenge fundraiser

* When: Noon-4 p.m. March 31.

* Where: Shooter's Depot, 5958 Shallowford Road

* Cost: $25, plus $10 if the candidate outshoots you. A $200 store credit will be awarded to the best shooter.

Source: Bill Taylor

Some Democrats get a little gun-shy about the Second Amendment.

Not Bill Taylor, the 3rd Congressional District hopeful hosting his Candidate Shootout Challenge. The March 31 event at Shooter's Depot fits Taylor's centrist platform, turning the grip-and-grin act of fundraising into an ode to firearms.

"Taylor, who shoots regularly at the Shooter's Depot, will challenge anyone to outshoot him for a $25 entry fee," according to a campaign news release. "An additional $10 accrues if Taylor outshoots the challenger. Each will fire eight rounds at seven yards."

Taylor said he uses a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol. His news release touts a National Rifle Association membership and notes that he's "starting to shoot sporting clays."

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., the man Taylor wants to unseat, often portrays himself as a gun-rights supporter. A picture posted on Fleischmann's official campaign Facebook page shows the freshman Republican blasting bullets into two indoor rifle range targets.

In a March 2 speech to the McMinn County Republican Party, Fleischmann said, "I'm going to make sure Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid never touch our guns."

He often mentions voting for the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, a measure to allow holders of state-issued concealed firearm permits to go armed in all states that issue such permits or do not prohibit the practice.

The bill easily passed the House in November, but the Democratic-controlled Senate hasn't voted on it.

"I don't think my position on the Second Amendment is going to be much different than the incumbent," Taylor said. "The Democrats I'm meeting in the district are different from the national stereotype on this issue."

Taylor obtained a handgun carry permit on Oct. 4, 2010, state records show.

"Bill's what we refer to as a frequent flier around here," Shooter's Depot owner John Martin said. "I'm voting for him, and I have rarely voted Democrat in my life."

The four-hour event is slated for the final day of Taylor's first full fundraising quarter. He initially wanted to raise $250,000 before the end of January, but on Friday declined to say whether he has met that goal.

Taylor's first financial disclosure -- documenting campaign contributions and expenditures through the end of March -- will be available in mid-April. Fleischmann has $620,000 in the bank, according to his latest financial report.

An Ooltewah resident who manages physician offices, Taylor is up against Maynardville, Tenn., physician Mary Headrick in the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary.

Ron Bhalla, Jean Howard-Hill, Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp are running against Fleischmann on the GOP side.

The 3rd Congressional District stretches from Chattanooga to the Kentucky border, touching parts or all of 11 East Tennessee counties.

The primary is Aug. 2.

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