People should expect fireworks during the race for his 3rd District congressional seat, U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said Monday.
"Iron sharpens iron," he said while in town at the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club. "Sometimes sparks fly. People shouldn't let that bother them as much as making sure that we are in position to bring everyone together after the primary."
Third District candidates Robin Smith, the former state Republican Party chairwoman, and attorney Chuck Fleischmann are locked in a bitter primary struggle for the party nomination. Both campaigns went into overdrive last week when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came to town to stump for Mr. Fleischmann.
Mrs. Smith's campaign said Mr. Huckabee's connections to the Fleischmann camp brought him to the state, not Mr. Fleischmann's credentials. Her campaign also hinted that Mr. Huckabee was paid to come here.
Mr. Fleischmann hit back, saying Mrs. Smith's claims are not true. And, while in Chattanooga, Mr. Huckabee also accused Mrs. Smith of being dishonest.
"There really is no need for that in a primary," he said at a news conference last week. "I'm not sure it's necessary in the general election, but it's certainly inappropriate in the primary."
It may not be necessary, but it is to be expected, Rep. Wamp said. The nomination fight will be tough, he said, because candidates must show how they're different from their opponents.
Rep. Wamp said a Republican likely will win the seat. And who is he pulling for?
"The Republican," he said with a smile.
Rep. Wamp, who stopped by the Pachyderm Club on Monday to talk about flooding in Tennessee, is in his own primary struggle to be the Republican nominee for governor.
Rep. Wamp's rivals for the GOP nomination for governor are Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey of Blountville. The Democratic candidate is Mike McWherter.
3RD DISTRICT CANDIDATES
Tommy Crangle, Chuck Fleischmann, Tim Gobble, Harvey Howard, Jean Howard-Hill, Van Irion, Rick Kernea, Basil Marceaux Sr., Art Rhodes, Robin Smith, Grover Travillian
Alicia Mitchell, Brenda Freeman Short, Brent Davis Staton, John Wolfe
Don Barkman, Mark DeVol, Gregory C. Goodwin, Robert Humphries, Mo Kiah, Savas T. Kyriakidis
Source: Tennessee Department of State