published Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Campaign finance reports rolling in for Tennessee's 3rd and 4th congressional districts

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Challengers are outpacing incumbents in Tennessee's 3rd and 4th congressional districts, campaign finance reports show, but 3rd District Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is faring better than his 4th District counterpart, Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

Fleischmann's camp announced Tuesday it had more than $640,000 on hand for his 2014 re-election bid, but finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show that $91,500 of that can't be used in the August primary. That means the incumbent has a $178,500 lead on challenger Weston Wamp.

Wamp's reports show his campaign has $373,000 on hand, after raising $403,000. All but $2,600 of Wamp's money can be spent in the primary.

"We feel very comfortable with where we're at in the campaign," said Jordan Powell, a senior adviser for Fleischmann's campaign.

Answering criticism from the Wamp campaign that a few Fleischmann supporters had contributed more than the $5,200 legal limit for the cycle, Powell said the campaign would correct any errors it found in the reporting. But he said it could have simply been a clerical or computer error.

"We'll have to look into that. There's any number of reasons those reports could show errors," Powell said.

If the donors did give too much, the campaign would refund the excess, Powell said.

Wamp's camp said the smaller lead was welcome news.

Democrat Mary M. Headrick and independent candidate Cassandra Mitchell are vying to face the Republican winner in November. No reports were filed for Headrick or Mitchell on Wednesday.

In the 4th District, Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy maintained his fundraising lead over incumbent DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the first three months of 2014, reports show.

Tracy, who is from Shelbyville, reported raising $172,061 from Jan. 1 through March 31. In DesJarlais' disclosure, the South Pittsburg physician reported raising $76,102.

Meanwhile, Tracy's campaign war chest stood at $913,561 as of March 31. DesJarlais' cash on hand was $198,356.

Tracy has led in fundraising since announcing his GOP primary challenge to DesJarlais, who has been dogged by reports that he had an affair with a patient and supported his first wife's abortions.

Tracy's campaign finance chairman, Shane Reeves, said in a statement that the financial support "will allow us to get our message out" to voters.

"We are about 90 days from early voting, and I am confident that the voters will elect Jim Tracy. We need a strong conservative leader in Washington, and Jim Tracy is the right person for the job," Reeves said.

Republicans John Anderson, Oluyomi "Fapas" Faparusi, Steve Lane, David Tate and Michael Warden are also seeking the seat. Only Lane has filed. He has $13,000 on hand.

Democrat Lenda Sherrell is seeking to beat the GOP pick in November. She reported raising $190,000 so far in 2014 and has $100,000 on hand.

No report was filed for independent candidate Robert Rankin Doggart.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is facing opposition from seven Republicans, 11 independents and four Democrats. On Wednesday no reports were available on the FEC website.

But one challenger, Republican state Rep. Joe Carr, said this week he raised $255,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31, and has $460,000 on hand. The campaign raised $250,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to reports.

Alexander, who is seeking a third term, recently announced he raised more than $614,000 in the first quarter of 2014. He has more than $3.1 million in cash on hand.

Staff writer Andy Sher contributed to this story.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6481.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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