published Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Weston Wamp narrows funding gap vs. Chuck Fleischmann

Weston Wamp and Chuck Fleischmann
Weston Wamp and Chuck Fleischmann

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann always has had more spending power than his Republican primary opponent Weston Wamp.

But second-quarter Federal Election Commission reports show his lead shrinking slightly.

Reports show Fleischmann's campaign started the April 1-June 30 quarter with $640,000 and raised $268,000 more. After spending $206,000, he's got $702,000 on hand ahead of the Aug. 7 primary.

Wamp, who started the quarter with $373,000, added $160,000 to his coffers. After spending about $108,000 -- half of what Fleischmann spent -- Wamp's campaign now has $425,000 on hand, according to reports.

But while Fleischmann has a big purse, he can't use it all to battle Wamp.

About $91,500 in the Ooltewah congressman's first-quarter report was designated for the general election, according to finance records. And about $34,000 of Fleischmann's second-quarter report is marked for November as well.

Nearly all of Wamp's money is slated for the primary.

That means Fleischmann has about $576,500 to use against his opponent. That's a $151,500 lead over Wamp, but it's less than Fleischmann's April margin of $178,500.

But Fleischmann's camp is well pleased with its fundraising efforts.

"We are in a strong position for the final weeks of the campaign to tell the voters of East Tennessee how Chuck has fought for their conservative values and will continue to do so when re-elected," Fleischmann finance chairman Tom Decosimo said.

Decosimo took a jab at Wamp over a recent independent political action committee contribution made by Wamp's supporter and boss, Lamp Post Group founder Allan Davis.

Davis gave $300,000 to the Character Counts PAC, which he said would be used for pro-Wamp advertising.

FEC reports Wednesday showed Character Counts spent $111,577 in support of Wamp in the last seven days.

"After a poor fundraising quarter, it is obvious why Weston needed his super PAC to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for him," Decosimo said.

Fleischmann's campaign has pointed out that Wamp spoke out strongly against super PACS before Davis made his donation.

"We have yet to hear [Wamp] denounce the ads and call for them to be taken down," Decosimo said.

He added that Wamp should match the PAC spending with campaign funds and donate to a good-government fund.

Wamp reported $4,000 in PAC donations in his own filing, but he called Fleischmann out for leaning heavily on PAC contributions. Fleischmann reported $144,500 in PAC contributions in the second quarter.

"The incumbent congressman is a perfect example of why Washington is broken. His re-election lives and dies based on the contributions of Washington special interests," Wamp said. "Of the $268,632 he raised in the second quarter, 54 percent came from Washington special interests and only 46 percent from individuals."

Wamp said in his book, he's been out-raising Fleischmann the whole time.

"Where our support comes from says a lot about the difference between us. Mine comes from Third District Tennesseans. His comes from Washington special interests. We have exceeded our fundraising goals set at the beginning of the campaign," Wamp said.

He said the campaign will continue to raise money and expects to raise and spend $600,000 in total by Aug. 7.

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Mary Headrick in November.

The filing deadline for second-quarter reports was 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, but Headrick had not filed as of late Wednesday afternoon.

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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