Chattanooga businessman Bill Taylor aims to raise campaign funds fast

Chattanooga businessman Bill Taylor aims to raise campaign funds fast

January 14th, 2012 by Chris Carroll in News

Bill Taylor, left, Democratic candidate for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, talks with Cynthia Coleman before his speech at the Greater Chattanooga Democratic Women's Club on Tuesday at the IBEW #75 hall on Volunteer Drive.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Document: Letter from Bill Taylor

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Can a Democrat running for U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleisch-mann's seat raise $250,000 in two weeks?

Chattanooga businessman Bill Taylor gave it a whirl Friday, sending nearly 400 people a letter focused on big money.

"Politics is expensive and fundraising success is a measure of the seriousness of a campaign," Taylor wrote. "My goal is to raise $250,000 in January with this letter to my friends and business associates. I need your help to meet this goal quickly and run a serious race."

A political newcomer, Taylor struck an educational tone in the letter, obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, noting that the federal limit for individual contributions is $2,500 per election and that "spouses are counted separately."

A health care administrator at Physician Practice Resources, Taylor did not delve deeply into policy positions or criticism of Fleischmann in the letter, instead presenting himself as a centrist against "the inaction and partisan politics" of the current Congress.

But in a phone interview, Taylor took a shot at his Republican opponent when asked if he would finance the campaign with his own money.

"I'm not going to comment on that, but I will say I don't have $600,000 to give myself like Chuck Fleischmann did," Taylor said, referring to the approximate amount the congressman donated and lent himself last year.

A spokesman for Fleisch-mann declined comment.

Taylor's campaign is just now getting off the ground. He only had 16 days between his Dec. 15 announcement that he was running and the New Year's Eve deadline for accepting year-end contributions, so he's unlikely to release a fourth-quarter financial disclosure.

Fleischmann's advisers have said the congressman will have $500,000 on hand by the time disclosures become public later this month.

Weston Wamp, Fleischmann's top primary opponent and the 24-year-old son of eight-term former congressman Zach Wamp, has said a fundraising event in December netted him $250,000.

Taylor said he'll spend whatever donations he receives on signs, billboards, airtime, political consultants and polling. He said he doesn't expect everyone who receives the letter to donate, adding that wasn't the sole purpose of sending it.

"A lot of people don't know I'm running yet," he said. "I know I've got to get my name out there."

A Democrat hasn't held the 3rd District seat since former Congresswoman Marilyn Lloyd left it in 1995.

Republicans Ron Bhalla and Jean Howard-Hill also are running against Fleischmann. The primary election is Aug. 2.