Mr. Pennell: Why Weston Wamp Lost

Gary Pennell

By: Gary Pennell

The 2014 Republican primary election for the Third District Congressional seat in the House of Representatives has passed, but the outcome is still disconcerting to some. Republican candidate Weston Wamp challenged Republican incumbent Chuck Fleischmann and lost by a narrow margin of 51 to 49 percent.

According to political observers, Fleischmann’s use of negative and misleading advertising played a significant role. Wamp, on the other hand, ran primarily a positive, issue- oriented campaign appealing to those who are fed up with the political inaction and stalemate that currently exists in Congress.

What is most troubling is that negative and misleading campaign advertising works and for those of us who would have preferred to see and hear candidates express their differences in a more positive and constructive way, were extremely disappointed.
Another factor that benefited Congressman Fleischmann was the turnout against Chattanooga’s domestic partnership referendum, which would have provided health benefits to any domestic partner of a city employee.. Older, more conservative voters including supporters of the Tea Party movement vehemently opposed the referendum thus attracting supporters for the more conservative Fleischmann.
Finally, the voter turnout was pathetically low. Only 26 percent of eligible voters in Hamilton County bothered to cast a ballot. Many believe that a broader representation from the electorate, especially younger voters, would have greatly benefited the Wamp campaign. Because the Democratic candidate had no opposition in the primary, a number of Democrats voted in the Republican primary for Wamp.

So where does that leave us? In November, Republican Congressman Chuck Fleischmann will face-off against Dr. Mary Headrick, a retired physician and the Democratic nominee for the Third District Congressional seat in Congress. Since the district’s demographics favor Republican candidates, Fleischmann currently has the edge in the upcoming election. Fleischmann seems to enjoy the gridlock and is proud of his puny list of accomplishments. I find it disheartening that we, here, in the Third district are in for more of the same.
However, I commend all voters, Republicans, Democrats, and independents who participated in the recent primary election. They proved to be the most engaged, informed, and passionate about the issues and candidates and we should applaud their commitment to the democratic process. The results of the Congressional primary, however, leave many of us concerned for the future of our region and our country. A Weston Wamp victory would have guided us in a more productive and positive direction.