published Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Scottie Mayfield implores supporters to stay on message


by Chris Carroll

Scottie Mayfield may not like "the big liberal media," but a campaign document shows the dairy executive's desire to milk the editorial pages for all they're worth.

In a mass email sent Friday afternoon, Mayfield staffer Abby Robinson asked an undisclosed list of supporters to write letters to the editor.

She also told them what to say.

"I have attached 12 talking points that we have put together for you as a guide when writing your letter," the letter states. "If you decide to write a letter to a media outlet next week, we encourage you to follow up with an additional letter to a different outlet the following week."

Mayfield is challenging U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in Tennessee's 3rd District Republican primary on Aug. 2. His appeal to write the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Knoxville News Sentinel and Chattanoogan.com came three days after his campaign distributed a fundraising letter blasting "the big liberal media" for asking "whether I know what I believe."

It's not unusual for campaigns to simultaneously attack the media and encourage letters to the editor, but aides to Fleischmann and his other Republican challengers, Ron Bhalla and Weston Wamp, said they don't spoon-feed themes to supporters.

"We encourage people to write letters on behalf of Weston," Wamp campaign manager Bonnie Brezina said, "but we don't tell them what to write."

Bhalla campaign manager Ken Orr said, "We like it raw. We don't use any kind of scripting."

A Mayfield spokesman did not return a call requesting comment.

In recent weeks, Mayfield's campaign has endured a series of unwanted headlines, including several exploring a campaign-related vandalism charge filed in April against his 33-year-old son.

The guidelines encourage calling the Mayfield Dairy president and first-time candidate "a salesman for the district." The word "experience" appears six times in the letter's 12 talking points.

"Experience is what makes Scottie the best candidate," the document states. "Experience in business and life, not politics."

Mary Headrick and Bill Taylor are the Democrats in the race. Matthew Deniston is the sole independent candidate.

Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at ccarroll@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6610.

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