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Weston WampPhoto by Lesha Patterson
Weston Wamp is the son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, the eight-term Republican congressman who gave up his seat in an unsuccessful bid to become governor of Tennessee. Not yet 25 (the legal age to be elected to Congress, Wamp will reach that milestone in March), the younger Wamp is aiming high, seeking to replace Chuck Fleischmann as representative of the 3rd District of Tennessee in Congress. The Pulse has teased and taunted Wamp for his youth and hubris, but his name recognition and fundraising ability are hard to ignore. In December, he raised more than $250,000 in a single night—a record for the district—giving incumbent Fleischmann reason for concern. In an attempt to mimic Playboy’s famed 20 Questions interviews, we submitted, well, 20 questions, to Wamp—some serious, some flighty, but all intended to reveal his views and personality, the latter of which is something that’s not reported on much. His answers are, we think, both revealing and, in some cases, carefully crafted. Our intent was to give the candidate an opportunity to represent himself in an uninterpreted manner. What did we find? The responses speak for themselves, but Wamp is certainly compelling, possessed of conviction (if not our sort) and fun. He’s young and inexperienced but spirited (we’ll give him that) and, if he wins, it may be as much a result of the collective discontent with Congress as much as his name or ideas. Of course The Pulse will offer similar questions and the same opportunity to each candidate in the coming months, but we’re young and sexy, too, so we begin 2012 and the campaign season with young Weston. These are his answers, unedited except for grammar and style.
You know the rap: You’re young, inexperienced and running on your family name. Why not lower your sights, run for city council and build a resume? What’s the rush?
I think climbing the political ladder can be very disingenuous. We need people to step forward and offer to serve at the level of government where they are passionate about making an impact. I have the utmost respect for people who serve at the local level, but I’m passionate about the need for our reckless federal government to hear from my generation before it’s too late. The federal government is borrowing more than $4 billion per day with no serious intentions to stop—that’s the rush.
In your view, what’s the biggest issue facing the 3rd District and what do you intend to do about it?
Any time unemployment is as high as 9 percent, that has to be the biggest issue facing our district and our country. Most jobs are created by small businesses and the federal government has stifled growth by causing uncertainty in the minds of the risk takers and entrepreneurs who drive our economy. If government would simply do its job—no more, no less—it would go a long way to restoring confidence. The tax code needs to be thrown out and drastically simplified, onerous federal regulations like Obamacare need to be eliminated and Congress has got to quit trying to fix the economy with short-term policies.
You set a district record for fundraising—more than $250,000 in one night! That’s an amazing haul. How much is it going to take to send Chuck Fleischmann back to Ooltewah?
The good news is that all it takes to win is the most votes. Money and special interests have way too much influence in politics today. I’m just trying to raise enough to get my message out there and I’m grateful that so many respected leaders in our community have invested in my campaign.