U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann seems to have formulated his strategy for his re-election campaign. If a piece of literature introduced during a district-wide kickoff tour last week is any indication, Fleischmann will stress his connections with the common man while subtly or not so subtly suggesting that his main opponents are men of privilege who don't understand what it means to work to achieve the American dream. Whether that tack succeeds, of course, will be determined by voters in the upcoming primary and general elections.
Fleischmann's red, white and blue brochure recounts how he overcame the loss of his mother, how he lived on his own at 16, how he mopped floors at a McDonald's, how he worked in a library and how he started what he calls a small business with his wife before becoming a member of Congress. That's all true, but the information provided is a bit selective.
Fleischmann, for example, does not indicate the nature of the small business. It is, in fact, a law firm that provides what obviously is a comfortable living. That's a logical conclusion to draw from the fact that the congressman contributed $600,000 of his own money to his first campaign. He might claim to be a small businessman, but most people in the district Fleischmann serves would agree that the ability to spend that much on his campaign elevates his business from the "small" to a much larger category.
There's nothing wrong with Fleischmann touting his up-by-the-bootstraps saga. It does help him contrast his upbringing with that of his two main competitors -- Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp. (Ron Bhalla is the other GOP challenger in Tennessee's 3rd District GOP primary).
Mayfield is a well-heeled executive at a dairy that bears his name. Wamp might not have the money that Mayfield does, but he's got an equally or more recognizable name. He's the son of Zach Wamp, Fleischmann's eight-term GOP predecessor.
Fleischmann's brochure, to be fair, offers more than his life's story. It emphasizes his conservative values, lists his accomplishments in office and sets forth his platform -- "less government, less spending, more jobs, and common Christian values." No doubt, Fleischammn hopes the brochure wins him votes.
Voters, however, should demand more, look deeper, ask questions and study his record before deciding on the candidate of their choice in the GOP primary.