NASHVILLE - Nineteen state legislators from across Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District are backing U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., as the Chattanooga congressman gears up for a 2014 race that could include a new challenge from Weston Wamp, son of former Congressman Zach Wamp.
A news release from the Fleischmann campaign says state legislators in 11 counties amounts to a strong show of support as the Chattanooga congressman seeks a third term.
"Times are certainly tough in Washington, and I am very fortunate to have such a wonderful group of state legislators to work with on issues impacting Tennesseans," Fleischmann said. "I believe these endorsements are proof positive of the strong relationships I have with our local leaders, and I look forward to continuing to serve with them."
All six Republican state legislators from Hamilton County are backing Fleischmann: Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson; House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga; Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga; Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge; Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga; and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah.
Watson said by telephone that he thinks the congressman "has done everything he has said he was going to do from his campaign perspective." There's "just not a lot to argue about on his positions from my political perspective."
In Floyd's view, Fleischmann has "done a commendable job" and has "won respect." The legislator said he backed Weston Wamp's father, former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp in his races. But if Weston Wamp launches another challenge, Floyd said, "I don't think Weston can beat him."
Others backing Fleischmann include Sen. Mike Bell, R-Cleveland; Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland; Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland; Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge; Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman; Sen. Frank Nicely, R-Strawberry Plains; Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, Rep. John Forgety, R-Athens; Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown; Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City; Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro; and Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge.
In the August 2012 primary, Wamp came in third in a four-man race. He narrowly won Hamilton County, the home base for both himself and Fleischmann. But Fleischmann did far better in Anderson County, which includes Oak Ridge, and some rural counties.
Wamp sent an email to reporters in mid-November, soliciting their input on another race. In it, he said he has heard "countless times" he would "probably be a U.S. congressman today if it were not for Scottie Mayfield's late entrance into the race."
He also cited selective results from a poll of 500 people he commissioned from Wilkins Research. He said it showed Fleischmann vulnerable in a head-to-head matchup with him, saying just 38 percent of 3rd District Republicans voicing support for the congressman. "Maybe even more indicative of the current political landscape is that when asked if their congressman deserved re-election or if it was time for someone new,'" only 24.9 percent said that he deserved re-election," Wamp said.
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at email@example.com.