Roy Exum: Wamp Has A Real Chance

Sunday, January 12, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Weston Wamp, smarter and wiser than he was two years ago in his political debut, will once again challenge incumbent Chuck Fleischmann for his seat in Congress and this time many believe the youthful Chattanooga businessman has a real chance to beat the two-term representative of Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District. According to multiple sources, Wamp will announce his candidacy Monday morning and signal a start to what promises to be a lively race before the Aug. 7 Republican primary.

Fleischmann, who has been a big part of “the worst Congress in the history of the United States,” is still admired by some Chattanooga voters but his lackluster record since going to Washington in 2010 is absolutely deplorable and the public discord for any incumbent in the nation’s capital is unprecedented. Add the fact it was just reported that for the very first time over half of the members of Congress – including Fleischmann – are now millionaires and rancor towards elected officials in Washington has never been greater.

Wamp carried Hamilton County in his 2012 bid to unseat Fleischmann but finished third in the district race, this after he and another good challenger, Scottie Mayfield, seemed to dilute one another’s effort to unseat the attorney from Chattanooga. Fleischmann was first elected in 2010 to take the place of Weston’s father, Zach, who made an unsuccessful run for governor. The elder Wamp had previously served four terms in Congress.

Fleischmann’s second term has been flawed by two particularly distasteful decisions. In July he and his Republican colleagues in Tennessee openly snubbed President Barack Obama when the nation’s leader visited the Amazon distribution center in Chattanooga. The rude and callous act infuriated thousands in District 3 residents who turned out to see the President and who now believe Fleischmann boldly shirked his pledge to represent them properly.

More recently, he has become part of a statewide Republican effort to oppose a pending act in Congress that would enhance efforts to eradicate horse abuse and the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. Fleischmann and six other Republicans in Congress – along with both Senators from Tennessee – have thus far refused to endorse the PAST Act (HR1518), which strengthens the Horse Protection Act of 1970, and animal advocates across the state and throughout the country are furious. Mind you, already 254 other members of Congress – a majority --have endorsed the bipartisan measure.

It is believed the questionable Republican stance is due to the fact Steven B. Smith, the state campaign chairman for Senator Lamar Alexander, is deeply involved with the scurrilous “Big Lick” segment of the Walking Horse industry that prizes the unnatural gait and the sadistic methods used to produce it. Trainers and owners have come out and said there is no other way to achieve the grotesque dance.

My goodness, with such disregard for his constituents and Fleischmann’s arrogance towards statesmanship, it would appear Wamp needs to do no more than watch such foolishness but Fleischman has a healthy campaign chest and some early endorsements from state political leaders who weren’t aware Wamp might enter the race.

Scott DesJarlais, the District 4 representative from Jasper, will be a primary target in the August primary after scandalous facts came out following his 2012 election that he urged a mistress to have an abortion and he and an ex-wife had two abortions. Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada and House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson are among a host of leaders who have endorsed his challenger, Jim Tracy (R-Shelyville).

DesJarlais was given a reception by the Big Lick at the National Walking Horse Celebration in 2012 and last year a similar fundraising event that netted a reported $70,000 was given for Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) who since has actively opposed the anti-soring legislation. Senator Alexander has only said he is studying the bill, urging self-regulation, but last week it was learned that between the seven new board members of the group’s trainers association, there have been no less than 112 violations of the federal Horse Protection Act in the past.

In the upcoming campaign Fleischmann will be held accountable to each voter for the fact he hasn’t enacted one law in four years. He introduced four bills this term, the lowest by any Tennessee representative, and his “report card” on Govtrack.us is among the very worst among 435 members of Congress. Look it up – it is shameful.

Saddest of all, Chuck Fleischmann has become little more than a foot soldier in the ongoing circus in the nation’s capital. Wamp, despite his lack of experience, grew up considerably in the 2012 race and, with two years to dissect his first effort, will undoubtedly make more of the right moves in this campaign. But if he gets elected, goes to Washington and does little or nothing, he can’t have a worse “report card” than his opponent by current Govtrack.us standards.

It is clear. Chattanooga and its people haven’t been well represented in Washington and that is the major reason for the announcement Weston Wamp will make tomorrow morning.

royexum@aol.com


Standing Behind The Armored Truck Lane

I just wanted to say that I stand behind the city's implementation of an armored truck lane.  I do my banking downtown and see those armored truck lanes used quite extensively.  The armored truck lane provides a safe, close location for the transfer of money to and from the banks.  I do have a few complaints about the armored truck lanes, however.  They need ... (click for more)

Sterling Jetton Isn't A Politician

Typically, I do not publicly endorse local candidates for any office.  However, in this case I strongly believe that Sterling Jetton is the best candidate for the Hamilton County Assessor of Property.   Rev. Jetton is clearly well qualified.  He served 27 years in the Assessor’s Office, he’s not a politician and he’s a man of absolute integrity.  I have personally ... (click for more)

Cleveland School Board Votes 5-2 To Terminate School Director Ringstaff Over Twitter Messages

The Cleveland School Board on Friday fired Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of schools, for sending sexually explicit messages to an anonymous woman a year ago.  His termination is effective immediately and does not include severance pay.  The school board called an emergency meeting after Dr. Ringstaff, who is married, admitted to sending explicit messages to ... (click for more)

History Center Not Giving Out Any More Information On Past Spending Details, Current Status, At This Time

The president of the Chattanooga History Center, which has halted plans for a world class history museum near the Aquarium after raising over $10 million, said no other information will be provided at this time. Chattanoogan.com had sought details about prior spending and the salary of former executive director Daryl Black as well as the center's current status. Jo Coke said, ... (click for more)

Ernie Johnson Jr. Captivates McCallie Classic Luncheon Crowd

Ernie Johnson Jr., the popular host of “Inside the NBA” on TNT, tipped off the inaugural McCallie Classic on Friday with a riveting speech before a large crowd at the school’s Sports and Activities Center. The rest of the two day event, which includes two nationally ranked basketball teams, had a hard act to follow. Johnson, a cancer survivor whose family adopted a young ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Teams Ready For Action At State Duals

All of those long grueling practices are over.  Challenge matches are a thing of the past. It's to that point in the season where either you're ready or you're not. As the old saying goes, the hay is in the barn and now is the time to reap the benefits of all the hard work that's been done in the past few months. In other words, it's post-season time for high school wrestling ... (click for more)