Fleischmann gains Smith's supporters, but not her backing

Fleischmann gains Smith's supporters, but not her backing

October 27th, 2010 by Dan Whisenhunt in Politics Regional

Republican 3rd Congressional District candidate Chuck Fleischmann won endorsements from five former supporters of his GOP primary rival, Robin Smith, but probably shouldn't hold his breath if he wants Smith's support before the Nov. 2 election.

Fleischmann said he would welcome it; Smith says so would other independent candidates, but she won't endorse a candidate in the race.

Former Smith supporters who have endorsed Fleischmann:

* U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

* U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

* State Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Kingsport

* State Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge

* State Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga

* U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Source: Chuck Fleischmann campaign

She said independent Savas Kyriakidis approached her seeking an endorsement and she also was approached about starting her own write-in campaign, but declined.

In an e-mail, she alluded to tensions between her and Fleischmann during the bitter primary struggle.

"My motivation in 'not endorsing' is based on my 20-plus years working for pro-business, pro-life, anti-tax, pro-gun conservative causes," Smith said. "I have never worked in a campaign that served to personally destroy an individual's character."

Kyriakidis said he understands why Smith didn't endorse Fleischmann.

"The way the primary was conducted, it's not surprising that everyone didn't grab hands and sing 'Kumbaya,'" Kyriakidis said.

Smith said if her supporters are endorsing Fleischmann, it's "their decision."

"My goal is always what's right for me based on principle, not what's politically expedient or correct," she said.

The campaign between Smith and Fleischmann featured heated attacks over endorsements and Smith's time as the state GOP chairwoman.

Smith implied that Fleischmann bought an endorsement from Fox News personality and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee; Fleischmann said Smith left the state party in debt.

Fleischmann said Tuesday he doesn't "perceive any bitterness" from Smith.

"I think there's been a tremendous healing process that's going on," Fleischmann said. "A lot of her supporters have come over to me. ... I wish Mrs. Smith and all the other candidates the very best."

He noted that two of his other GOP primary opponents, Tim Gobble and Tommy Crangle, endorsed him after the race.

Crangle said he got behind Fleischmann because that's what a Republican should do and he doesn't agree with Smith's refusal to endorse the party's candidate.

"I would not consider myself a good Republican if I did something like that," Crangle said. "This thing is not about an individual. This is about this country."

Gobble said he wouldn't speculate on why Smith won't support Fleischmann, but said he personally believes supporting the party's nominee is the right thing to do.

Clarification

An article that ran in Wednesday's Times Free Press regarding endorsements in the 3rd Congressional District Race should have said that losing GOP candidate Robin Smith says she sent two e-mails to victor Chuck Fleischmann after the primary. She says Fleischmann did not respond. Fleischmann said he called Smith after the primary. Smith said Fleischmann did call her but during a time when he knew she would be unavailable.

Contact Dan Whisenhunt at dwhisenhunt@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DWhisenhunt.

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