Tennessee milk and ice cream titan Scottie Mayfield's "run" to succeed fellow Republican Chuck Fleischmann as the 3rd District's representative to Congress thus far barely qualifies as a walk, and now it seems he's leaving the racetrack entirely to take a seat in the bleachers.
Mayfield, who in late April declined an invitation to take part in a June 23 candidates' debate hosted by the Chattanooga Tea Party, now has turned down an invitation to a May 21 debate sponsored by the Times Free Press and WRCB-TV 3.
Through Joe Hendrix, his communications director, Mayfield's emailed response to the invitation:
"Scottie believes the majority of those who attend debates have already made up their mind who they are going to vote for. The issues are not where the candidates differ, it's experience. Scottie has public appearances nearly every day for the next month, and he intends to continue to talk about his proven record of job creation and connect with undecided voters, one on one."
The extent of Mayfield's "proven record" of creating jobs appears to involve managing as many as 1,700 Mayfield Dairy employees and, beginning in 2007, letting about 250 of them go as milk prices fell. Well, lots of business owners have had to deal with similar challenges.
And debates, while requiring a certain amount of preparation (and intestinal fortitude) on the part of participants, are a wonderful way to help ensure that as many people as possible in the area that candidates hope to represent find out where those folks stand on the issues they care about.
Mayfield has not identified any votes he would have cast, or any legislation he would address, in a manner differently than has Fleischmann. And if job experience is what really matters, well, former collections attorney Fleishmann now has some of it in Congress.
The other Republican primary candidates who are challenging Fleischmann, Weston Wamp and Ron Bhalla, apparently are prepared to discuss, and defend, their positions on the issues.
Mayfield consistently has failed to take a stand for anything specific or, God forbid, controversial. Though he believes most people who attend debates "have already made up their mind" for whom they will vote, the milkman has given voters precious little information to consider.
Simply proclaiming yourself to be a conservative and hoping to coast into office on some combination of name recognition, people's fondness for your frozen treats and the public's presumed inattention to detail is both disingenuous and offensive.
We deserve far better from those who hope to represent our interests on the national stage.