With only four days until Election Day, we have a pretty good grasp on the race for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District. Incumbent Chuck Fleischmann has a strong record of fiscal conservatism with a few negatives here and there. Weston Wamp is an articulate and energetic candidate that is willing to put solving problems above partisan loyalties. Ron Bhalla is an American success story with an idealistic and interesting - but impractical - plan to allow constituents' to direct him how to vote in Congress.
And Scottie Mayfield, well...
We'd like to tell you where Scottie Mayfield stands on the issues, but we can't. He refused a number of offers to speak to us (and by "us," I mean the conservative editorial page in the largest newspaper in the district).
Mayfield wasn't just the only candidate in his race who was unwilling to speak with us. He was the only one of the 28 candidates spread across 11 races we invited to have a conversation with us who refused.
As a challenger with little policy background, we were hoping to learn something about his ideas.
After all, Mayfield began his campaign by refusing to tell a group of College Republicans what he hoped to accomplish in Washington. Then he declined all invitations to debates, except for a single health care forum.
He only recently put a few broad issue statements up on his website, and even those were largely borrowed from Heritage Foundation studies and then reworded.
Mayfield is probably a wonderful guy. Heck, he invented the mini ice cream sandwich, so that puts him pretty high in our book. However, a candidate who is unwilling to explain and defend his positions is a poor candidate and a poorer use of a vote.
A much better use of a vote would be in support of Weston Wamp. The 25-year-old son of former 3rd District Congressman Zach Wamp has spent much of the campaign trying to distinguish himself from his old man, while trying to capitalize on the name recognition brought by being his father's son.
Weston claims that he's learned from his father's big-spending, term-limit-pledge-breaking, bailout-supporting ways and professes to be more fiscally conservative and more focused on big-picture issues, like debt and entitlement spending than his father.
His professed desire to reach across the aisle to solve problems is commendable, but ultimately means a lot of log-rolling and compromise. For principled conservatives, that can be a little hard to swallow.
While not having the name recognition garnered by being a fourth generation dairy industry magnate or sharing a last name with an eight-term congressman, Rep. Fleischmann has one thing that the other candidates don't: A voting record.
When pouring over that voting record, some very positive things stand out. For example, Fleischmann voted against Obamacare, and votes to repeal it at every opportunity. He voted to defund NPR, trim Congressional office budgets by 5 percent and expand responsible offshore energy exploration.
Fleischmann also sponsored some very good bills, including H.R. 3318, which would eliminate the capital gains tax for two years. That bright idea would stimulate economic growth by allowing more money to be invested back into the economy, rather than by being captured - and largely wasted - by the federal government.
But, as Weston Wamp correctly pointed out in this paper, Fleischmann's record also indicates that he puts his desire to garner funding for projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which sits squarely in the 3rd District, above his desire to remain responsible with tax dollars.
Has Fleischmann made votes that make us cringe? A few. But, in reviewing his first term in Congress, we can find no fireable offense.
On the whole, Fleischmann stands up for free market, limited government legislation more often than not. He has pledged not to vote for any tax increases. His voting record displays a consistent commitment to addressing the most pressing issues of the day in a reasonable, fiscally responsible way.
We endorse returning Chuck Fleischmann to the United States Congress.