U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann says he's confused by Scottie Mayfield challenge

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann says he's confused by Scottie Mayfield challenge

April 13th, 2012 by Chris Carroll in News

Mary Lou O'Brien purchases bird seed as U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann works as cashier at Ace Hardware on Thursday on East Brainerd Road.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

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U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann on Thursday said he can't figure out why dairy magnate Scottie Mayfield is challenging him in the Republican primary in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District.

"I'm already practicing what he's preaching," Fleischmann said.

In the first two months of his campaign, Mayfield has emphasized his business experience and downplayed politics, but had little to say about his views. At one point, he responded "Not really" to a question about whether he disagreed with any of Fleischmann's votes.

On Thursday, Fleischmann reinforced the similarities, a mere 24 hours after the Mayfield campaign promoted the fresh addition of several political positions on its campaign website, whose only previous clue to Mayfield's platform said, "Republican for Congress."

The Mayfield campaign website now says the McMinn County resident wants to cut "wasteful Washington spending," oppose "Obamacare" and "stand up for life and our East Tennessee values," among other bullet points.

"Just reading this for the first time," Fleischmann said, "this appears to be the things I'm already doing in Congress with my voting record and legislation."

Fleischmann was in Chattanooga for a "Chuck on the Job" event at Ace Hardware on East Brainerd Road. The congressman's aides encourage media coverage of such stops, during which Fleischmann works a few hours and discusses the economy with employees and customers.

As evidence, Fleischmann cited his vote to repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. He also noted the Freeze Government Spending Act that he introduced which would cut discretionary spending to "pre-Obama levels" and freeze it for 10 years. Records show the bill hasn't left the House Budget Committee.

Fleischmann's first-year efforts don't seem to matter to some donors. Mayfield raised $450,648 in the first seven weeks of his campaign, shattering Fleischmann's 3rd District quarterly record of collecting $321,230 over three months.

Tommy Hopper, a Mayfield consultant, did not address a specific question on how his candidate differs from Fleischmann on the issues, but in a written statement he said:

"Our campaign isn't against anyone -- it's about moving our country back in the right direction," Hopper wrote. "We know Chuck is doing the best he can, but what we need are men with 40 years experience in small business and creating jobs and less Washington political games."

Chattanooga Republicans Ron Bhalla and Weston Wamp also are challenging Fleischman. Maynardville, Tenn., physician Mary Headrick and Chattanooga businessman Bill Taylor are in the Democratic primary. Matthew Deniston, an independent, also is in the race.

The primary is Aug. 2.