Haslam hints at possible Fleischmann endorsement but stops short

Haslam hints at possible Fleischmann endorsement but stops short

April 9th, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Republican Governor Bill Haslam is pictured in this file photo.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.

Photo by Alex Washburn /Times Free Press.

POLL: Do you support Chuck Fleischmann?

NASHVILLE -- Gov. Bill Haslam indicated Monday he might support U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who could be in store for a tough GOP primary fight this summer for his 3rd Congressional District seat.

But Haslam stopped short of an outright endorsement of the Chattanooga freshman lawmaker, likening the situation to his own hotly contested 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary battle.

"I don't think we're at the point of an endorsement yet," Haslam said. "My feelings on that have typically been like, where there's an incumbent, that's who we support. You have a fairly unique situation here."

Fleischmann faces primary opposition from Weston Wamp, the 25-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, as well as from Mayfield Dairy President Scottie Mayfield, 61.

"In the Republican primary so far, I haven't supported anyone there," Haslam said. "It does feel like it's going to be interesting. It feels a little like a primary I was in one time with three very engaged people."

One of the opponents Haslam faced in his gubernatorial primary was the elder Wamp. The campaign was at times bitter, with Wamp at one point running ads calling Haslam a "billionaire oil man who price-gouged working Tennesseans."

Haslam denied both points.

"I think I've actually already, prior to everybody else announcing, given Congressman Fleischmann, I think, a campaign contribution," Haslam said. "And he is the incumbent, which in the past has tended to get our support."