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 email@example.com or 615-255-0550.