Republican congressional candidate Weston Wamp ready to unveil platform

Republican congressional candidate Weston Wamp ready to unveil platform

February 5th, 2012 by Chris Carroll in News

Weston Wamp Contributed photo

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Republican congressional candidate Weston Wamp said he would release a formal platform Feb. 13, four months after challenging U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.

Wamp announced his candidacy Oct. 2 and raised $307,646 before the end of 2011. In early November he said he would reveal detailed policy positions "by the first of the year."

"When I said 'by the first of the year,' what I meant was ... 'at the beginning of the year, we'll get started with that,'" Wamp said in a Friday phone interview. "Now is an appropriate time."

Wamp is the 24-year-old son of former congressman Zach Wamp, who vacated Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District seat to run unsuccessfully for governor and was succeeded by Fleischmann.

According to a Facebook post, the younger Wamp will outline his "plan to restore confidence with specific long term solutions and bold reforms" Feb. 13 in front of the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club, a local Republican organization.

Club President Joe Manuel said Pachyderm speakers usually are given about 20 minutes.

To date, Wamp has not criticized publicly any vote Fleischmann has taken, instead emphasizing his youth and unique perspective as the son of a longtime congressman. Wamp has said he supports a balanced federal budget and "drastically" shrinking government, two boilerplate themes Fleischmann also favors.

Dr. Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University professor who studies congressional elections, said voters expect primary challengers to distinguish themselves from the incumbent.

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"Where do they agree and disagree?" Oppenheimer said. "Is the difference based on policy issues or personality?"

Wamp called Fleischmann's conservative voting record "rather vanilla" and said he believes the congressman's proposed two-year capital gains tax moratorium is nothing more than a "short-term Washington solution."

Jordan Powell, a spokesman for Fleischmann, responded on the tax moratorium.

"A few weeks ago he said that was a laughable solution; today it's not a long-enough solution; so we'll wait a few more weeks to see what his new position is on it and respond," Powell said.

Asked what he would do differently on capital gains and other issues, Wamp said he has talked with donors "for hours on end" about policy, but he declined to elaborate.

"We'll get into my platform on Monday, Feb. 13," he said, adding that he would occasionally "break party lines" in Congress when necessary.

In October, Wamp said Fleischmann "has not played much of a role in my decision to run for Congress," explaining that he's running at a young age "because our country desperately needs fresh ideas."

"Why I want to run for Congress is very different than what I want to do when I get there," he said Friday. "People support candidates more often than they support a platform anyway."

Chattanooga businessman Ron Bhalla, political science professor Jean Howard-Hill and dairy mogul Scottie Mayfield are Fleischmann's other GOP opponents.

Democrats in the race are Mary Headrick and Bill Taylor.