Fleischmann: 46,745 votes (51 percent)
Wamp: 45,064 votes (49 percent)
Source: Tennessee Division of Elections
Weston Wamp kept it civil the whole campaign. But in his concession call to Tennessee 3rd Congressional District Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Wamp made no bones about his feelings.
"Congressman, this is Weston Wamp. You successfully deceived tens of thousands of Tennesseans, and you won. I concede," Wamp told the incumbent before briskly hanging up the phone Thursday. He confirmed the statement in an interview with the Times Free Press on Friday.
What is traditionally the post-game handshake in politics -- a sign of respect between candidates -- was decidedly different for the two-time opponents.
Fleischmann did not return multiple messages requesting an interview Friday. On Thursday night, he congratulated Wamp "on a well-run race."
Wamp, 27, said his curt phone call was nothing compared to the barrage of attack ads Fleischmann bought in the two weeks leading up to election day.
One mailer showed a manipulated image of Wamp's head on the body of a man burning a U.S. passport. The ad included a partial quote from Wamp and claimed he supported amnesty for undocumented immigrants. During a debate with Fleischmann -- from which the quote was taken -- Wamp said immigrants should be allowed "a path to be legal and pay taxes -- but not be citizens."
On other mailers and TV and radio ads, Fleischmann's camp claimed Wamp would support President Barack Obama's policies, refused "to take a position on gun issues" and financially benefitted from the Affordable Care Act through an insurance brokerage company in the Lamp Post Group.
Wamp denied or refuted all the claims, and said Fleischmann was being "intellectually dishonest."
On Friday, Wamp said he was only speaking with candor.
"I've made an effort to be sincere and not be disingenuous, and I do believe the congressman won based on a massive effort to spread misinformation," Wamp said.
Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer said negative campaigning usually has more of an impact -- and is more prevalent -- in three-person races.
"My sense is Fleischmann went negative because he knew it was close, and he was scared. We won't know [the actual impact of ads], but it's a way you mobilize your people," Oppenheimer said.
On Friday, Wamp said the attack ads and his age were the two nails in his campaign's coffin. Had he been 32 or 42, he said, he would have likely won.
"At 62, it would have been a lock," Wamp joked.
"I think it played a major role, and I think that's really sad for our country, because we have plenty of gray hair in Washington and it's entirely dysfunctional."
Wamp said after two efforts to unseat Fleischmann, he has no plans now for a 2016 challenge.
"The way we feel right now, we went all-out, and we gave the voters an opportunity to choose a very different campaign and candidate," Wamp said. "It doesn't leave me to be inclined to run for political office again -- at least in the near future."
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at email@example.com or at 423-757-6481.