Campaign spending picks up in Tennessee's 3rd District

Campaign spending picks up in Tennessee's 3rd District

July 29th, 2014 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

Weston Wamp and Chuck Fleischmann

Weston Wamp and Chuck Fleischmann

Jim Tracy and Scott DesJarlais

Jim Tracy and Scott DesJarlais

NASHVILLE - U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and his GOP primary challenger Weston Wamp whipped out their campaign wallets and collectively spent more than three-quarters of a million dollars during the first part of July as the two men's bitter rivalry headed into early voting.

Fleischmann outspent Wamp $416,861 to $362,954 as the two candidates paid for television and radio ads, direct mail and other expenses from July 1 through July 18, according to disclosures filed over the weekend with the Federal Election Commission.

That's $779,815 collectively.

The reports show two-term incumbent Fleischmann paid a media ad placement firm $348,000 - with a $109,000 chunk of it July 1, another $20,000 on July 10, $109,000 more on July 16 and $110,000 on July 18.

Wamp, who lost to Fleischmann in the multicandidate 2012 primary, also spent big on advertising with $322,468. He dropped $196,511 of that July 14 and another $125,957 on July 17.

Helping fuel Fleischmann's campaign was $62,627 in net contributions. Wamp received $20,317. On July 18, Fleisch- mann had a cash balance of $348,260 but debts and obligations totaling $211,807. Wamp's cash balance was $83,161.

But Wamp is getting help from an independent "Super" PAC, Character Counts, which so far has spent $111,000 on advertising and related costs in support of Wamp. The group was funded with $300,000 by Chattanoogan Allan Davis, a partner at Lamp Post Group - a company Wamp helped found - and another independent expenditure could soon come.

Meanwhile over in Tennessee's 4th Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais outraised GOP challenger Jim Tracy by a 2-to-1 margin in the first 18 days of July.

But Tracy outspent the embattled 4th Congressional District representative by nearly four times as much, disclosures show.

The candidates' pre-primary reports also show Tracy, a state senator, made a $50,000 personal loan to his campaign on top of the $21,312 he raised from contributors.

DeJarlais, whose fundraising has trailed Tracy's, this go around raised $41,880.

But Tracy spent heavily during the period, a total of $422,744 with about $326,000 for media. Tracy also spent another $48,583 for printing and postage for political mailers to voters in the district, which covers all or parts of 15 East and Middle Tennessee counties.

DesJarlais spent $113,492, which included $86,895 for media and television ad production and another $14,474 on direct mail.

As of July 18, when early voting in Tennessee started, DesJarlais reported $112,892 in cash on hand, and Tracy, with the $50,000 loan, had $353,682 in cash.

But Citizens 4 Ethics in Government, an independent expenditure group controlled by Nashville millionaire investor Andrew Miller, reported spending $15,000 in support of DesJarlais.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550.