Note: This editorial was updated on Oct. 20 to clarify remarks made by U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.
Third District U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga, is correct when he says "God willing, I'm going to be [in Congress] as long as I want to," given East Tennessee's longtime Republican bent."
The reason, he says, is because "I've done the right things."
Fleischmann is seeking a sixth term in the House in the current election, where he is facing hospitality industry manager Meg Gorman, a Democrat.
In a Congress led by Democrats, as the current one is, doing "the right things" for a Republican means providing strong constituent services, taking care of 3rd District needs, and working on legislation and issues from the status of the minority party in a hyperpartisan Washington, D.C., atmosphere.
Although we differ from Fleischmann from time to time, we believe he is attempting to, as he puts it, "advocate for what the vast majority [of his constituents] wants," and we believe he should be re-elected.
For instance, he voted with a bipartisan group of his colleagues earlier this year to provide governmental relief for people initially affected by the shutdown of most commerce by the coronavirus. And he said additional relief bills "should have gotten done."
Those bills — he didn't say, but we will — have not passed because of the excessive demands of what should be in them by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
Meanwhile, Fleischmann has continued to advocate for funds for further scientific and technological development at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, and chairs the House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus (despite his status in the minority). And, he noted, he has attempted to strengthen the ties among Oak Ridge, Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
He also said, with "an excellent relationship with the White House" and as a representative of much of the area the Tennessee Valley Authority serves, he was a "source of reason" earlier this year when the agency attempted to outsource some of its jobs abroad over the Trump administration's objection.
Also this year, Fleischmann said he helped secure personal protective equipment for front-line workers and saw to it that money was appropriated to fight the invasive Asian carp in East Tennessee waters and to complete the new Chickamauga Dam lock, which should be finished in 2023 or 2024, he said.
Gorman describes herself as "more progressive than you traditionally see in East Tennessee" and says she admired self-described Democrat socialist U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, "before he was cool." She advocates a single-payer health care system and a universal basic income for U.S. residents. Yet, what she says 3rd District residents have told her they are anxious for is better internet access.
We don't believe she fits with the majority of district residents and recommend Fleischmann's re-election.