There is nothing worse than internecine warfare in the GOP. For the record, there has been plenty of that from both the Republican congressional campaigns of Weston Wamp and Chuck Fleischmann. However, there are several things that need to be stated, particularly in rebuttal to Roy Exum's criticism of Scottie Mayfield and Chuck.
Weston has wrapped himself in the slogan, "Stop the Negative Politics," but he has been a fountain of negative campaigning for the last three years, and rarely mentions his opponent without using the words "corrupt" or "dishonest," Wamp talking points that the Times/Free Press has repeatedly regurgitated.
Case in point: Before any paid "negative" campaign advertising in this primary, Weston published a statement last March regarding his unethical recording of his conversation with Scottie Mayfield, a recording which he amateurishly attempted to use to "discourage" Mayfield from endorsing Chuck. Weston did not apologize, but instead justified his actions, claiming that he had to "protect" himself against Chuck, who he repeatedly describes as "corrupt" and "dishonest." His "ends justifies the means" excuse speaks volumes as to who Weston really is.
Other than just attempting to capitalize on "anti-incumbent fever," Weston has failed to articulate which of Chuck's key legislative votes he is running against. Now, there may be a couple of procedural votes Chuck cast, which can be criticized out of context, but Weston's father Zach cast more than a few of those votes to move a piece of legislation into bipartisan consideration. Indeed, isn't that what Weston says he wants -- bipartisanship?
Regarding Weston's casting Chuck as always falling in line behind Speaker John Boehner, after Weston’s father lost his first House campaign, Representative Boehner came to Tennessee and campaigned around the district for Zach, an endorsement which in no small part help Zach win his seat the second time around. Zach certainly owes John Boehner a great debt of gratitude for his support. Though Weston now believes he is the heir apparent for that seat, he never misses a chance to attack Boehner’s and Chuck's unified voting record with House Republicans. That is exactly how Chuck should be voting, given the Democrat control of the Senate and Executive Branch. Just what exactly are the gridlock issues that Weston believes he needs to cross the aisle for? Immigration? Healthcare?
One of Weston's wealthy benefactors wrote a $300,000 check to a Super PAC fund to support him, in effect circumventing strict limits on campaign donations. Last time around in 2012, Weston issued numerous public condemnations of Super PACs and their corrupting political influence. I agree with Weston on this point, but he is now silent on Super PACs. That silence is deafening.
Weston’s personal financial reports are highly suspect. In his latest filing, he indicated that his "Preceding-Year Earned Income" (2013) was $24,000. For just the first few months of his "Current Year to Filing" (through April 15, 2014) he indicates income of $67,203, or annualized, almost eight times his prior year income, though his employer says he has been on "paid leave of absence." It would appear that based upon that filing and the Times Free Press reports that his employer pays Weston a LOT more when he is not working for them. Weston has responded to the "irregularities" by insisting the two page form was too complicated. If so, how is he going to understand ObamaCare, or the Inland Waterway Trust Fund, or articulate the need for three veterans’ clinics – all of regarding which Chuck has demonstrated clear understanding and taken appropriate action.
The most important question every Republican or Libertarian voter in this district should ask themselves is this: Why would a Democrat cross primary lines to vote for a Republican, as Weston is encouraging them to do, unless that Republican is a greater threat to the Obama's agenda than his primary opponent? Indeed, Weston has fully embraced this "crossing of the lines" on the principle that, again, "the end justifies the means."
As for Weston’s repeated assertions that Chuck is a "do nothing," the fact is Chuck has accomplished some big legislative goals for the Third District, especially for a second term Rep. with not much seniority.
Finally, if Weston's last name was not Wamp, he would be relegated to the political graveyard. Despite my disdain for vitriolic campaign accusations from both camps, the contest between Chuck and Weston is basically a contest between capable humility and blustering bravado.
Wilson von Kessler
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Wilson brings up some good points. I have thought that Weston has run an entirely negative campaign, consistently stating: "Chuck is bad; it's my turn, because I'm young." He hasn't run on anything he is going to do other than not what Chuck has done, which may have some validity, but there are a lot of bad things that Chuck hasn't done either.
A do-nothing-Chuck probably has a lot to do with being a relatively new congressman. Weston should know more than anyone that it is hard to get the good appointments as a one or two term congressman. Once you have established yourself like Zach did, you start to get the positions of power and can actually do something. How will Weston be any different in his first term? Will a current 21-year-old be saying the same things about Weston in two more elections? Will an elected Weston have any more weight to throw around in D.C.? How will Congress accept the greenhorn?
I am a firm believer that if Weston didn't have his father's playbook and his father's campaign advisers, Weston wouldn't have joined the race. Of course he is following in his father's footsteps. The only difference is that his father had real estate beforehand and wasn't raised in political captivity and bread for politics. Zach was real. Heck, I'd trust Weston more if he did have a mug shot.
Washington is too rough for someone still wet behind the ears. Weston still has a good five decades to win this race and I'm confident he will try until he wins.
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Wilson von Kessler, you have just made the first step toward recovery in admitting that your candidate, Mr. Fleischmann is tarnished. I’m not sure if you are referring to Chuck as the tarnished pot or the tarnished kettle, but it really makes no difference. Tarnished is what tarnished is.
However, in your somewhat shallow and redundant letter, you fail to bring up anything that Chuck has really done that would cause anyone to vote for him. Rather, you spend your entire time trying to paint Weston Wamp as being “as tarnished” as your Chuck.
It’s just more of the same ol same ol that is all you can come up with. That’s fine because most people see right through it and realize Chuck’s desperation to be re-elected. Don’t pay any attention to what the endorsers of Weston Wamp are saying. Just drink my Kool-Aid and believe that we can keep doing the same thing over and get a different result. Or, better yet, be a “Do Nothing Chuck” and get good results. Sounds a bit silly don’t you think?
My answer: no thank you. Weston Wamp has done the right thing and that would include the debates and his campaigning. I’m just wondering how low Mr. Fleischmann will stoop while Weston remains positive.
And for the record, Zach Wamp is not running this time so just give us a list of what Chuck has done, other than be good to his father.
J. Pat Williams
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Tim Giordano and Wilson von Kessler, you both make excellent and objective points.
I cannot fathom why anyone would support a recent college grad riding a fundraising coattail called Zach Wamp. There are much more accomplished young people than Weston Wamp. The problem is they could not raise the $500k plus to run for Congress, or get a millionaire to convert their wealth into Super PAC funds for someone solely on name. Weston certainly could not raise these funds without his father’s recognition. However, Zach Wamp is not running for office.
Weston Wamp should run for City Council or School Board, and gain life experience, then perhaps down the road he would be a good candidate.
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What a bunch of inuendo and nonsense. Weston Wamp is a 27 year old professional. He graduated Cum Laude from UT five years ago and has been in the private sector successfully since then. He is married and his wife Shelby is expecting a child. They own their home, have a mortgage and a car payment. He is articulate, knowledgeable and totally prepared to be effective on the day he is sworn in next January. The reports from a trumped up political complaint of his salary and employment status are inaccurate and misleading just like the rest of Chuck Fleischmann’s campaign. Weston is the far better choice as our next representative. You are entitled to your own opinion but the facts speak for themselves.