It comes as no surprise, really, that 3rd District voters have almost assured Chuck Fleischmann a second term in Congress. They flirted with Weston Wamp and danced with Scottie Mayfield, but in the end, they took the Chuck-Bot home from the dance. More surprising is Dr. Mary Headrick’s win over Bill Taylor in the Democratic primary. With little or no advertising, Headrick vaulted over competitor Taylor by an almost two-to-one margin, surprising even herself.
Nevertheless, Headrick will lose. Early voting results showed an overwhelming number of Republican voters casting their votes, a presence that continued into Aug. 2. Not since 1995 has a Democrat represented the 3rd District, after which Zach Wamp began his long reign. While the party produces thoughtful candidates who stand head and shoulders above their Republican counterparts—something the Times-side editorial writers of the TFP noted before the election—like Democrats statewide, they lack funding and fundamental support of the largely conservative Tennessee Valley. Perhaps then it’s no wonder the TFP mentioned Headrick’s victory only in the last sentence of its Fleischmann victory story on the front page of Friday’s paper.
As for the also-rans, Young Weston (full of dimples and swagger, but little substance) and Milkman Mayfield (as an invisible candidate as we’ve ever seen, who needed a milk carton that read: “Have you seen my campaign?”), the TFP rightly noted that popularity and name recognition is not necessarily a plus in modern campaigns. That strategy is likely not lost on Chuck, nor is it on his party’s presumptive nominee for president. The message is extraordinarily clear: “You don’t have to like me,” these Republicans seem to say (even as the candidates themselves struggle to wonder why). Elections on all levels these days seem to be built on fear—a tactic the Republicans have mastered and continue to wield successfully.