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Chuck Fleischmann


Qualifying deadline: April 5, 2012

Primary: Aug. 2, 2012

General election: Nov. 6, 2012

Source: Hamilton County Election Commission

Asked to talk about raising six figures for a race that hasn't even started, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann emailed a statement Friday through his staff, marking the third time in two weeks Tennessee's 3rd District congressman has declined to talk about fundraising.

"We feel good about where we are," Chip Saltsman, the Republican congressman's chief of staff, said Saturday. "Politics is not our No. 1 goal right now. It's to make sure our country gets its financial house in order."

Friday marked the deadline to file July quarterly reports, which show how much candidates raised between April 1 and June 30 for the 2012 election season.

"Today is the last day of the quarter," Fleischmann's Facebook page said on June 30. "Just a few contributions short of our goal. Will you help me reach it today?"

Last week, Fleischmann's staff issued a statement saying the congressman was "not thinking about politics."

But the report to the Federal Election Commission showed he raised $147,040 in the quarter, including about $44,500 from political action committees.

The report showed the campaign has $261,470 in cash on hand and $250,000 in debt.

In a news release Friday, Fleischmann said he was "thankful for everyone who has stepped up this early to express their support for the work I am doing in Congress."

"While we are well over a year away from next November, I am glad that so many of those I serve in Congress want to continue to help the Conservative cause I am working so hard for," he said in the statement.

But Fleischmann hasn't been available to speak in person with news media. Over the last two weeks The New York Times and the Chattanooga Times Free Press have attempted to reach him, only to be intercepted by Saltsman or Jordan Powell, his press secretary.

Fleischmann represents Chattanooga, Oak Ridge and rural areas in the 3rd District. He spent a record $1.3 million during last year's primary and general election, including $600,000 of his own money that he donated or lent.

Robin Smith and Weston Wamp, two Republicans who have expressed interest in Fleischmann's seat, have not yet declared candidacies, but Smith reported a $2,610 self-donation Friday.

Attempts Saturday to reach Smith, who lost to Fleischmann in the 2010 primary, were unsuccessful. But her campaign treasurer said the self-donation didn't necessarily mean anything for 2012.

"We're still paying off a few relatively small debts [$30,898] for the 2010 cycle," said Oscar Brock. "What she's told me is that she won't make a decision until the end of the year. Maybe next year."

Wamp, 24, is the son of former Rep. Zach Wamp, who held the 3rd District seat for 16 years before stepping down to run unsuccessfully for governor.

The younger Wamp said Friday he's received a "tremendous amount of support from the business community" to explore a run for his father's old seat, but hasn't made a firm decision.

"It's very early in the process and I've received a lot of encouragement," said Wamp, who last year started a public relations firm, Wamp Strategy. "I'm considering it strongly."