Republican congressional candidate Weston Wamp has begun a swing of the 3rd District in a 32-foot recreational vehicle he will call home while visiting cities and neighborhoods in the district.
Wamp began his travels on Monday and plans to use the RV as a “home away from home” where he can take a grassroots-style campaign to the voters.
“When we had this designed, my one priority was I wanted my wife, Shelby, to be able to travel with me,” Wamp said.
The son of former U.S. Rep Zach Wamp is making his second run at the 3rd District congressional seat and is facing incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in the Republican primary.
Wamp says using the RV gives him a chance to spend more time with voters and “stay close to the people, unlike those currently in Washington.”
His second run at the office finds him a still-youthful 26, but Wamp says he sees that as a strength and not a weakness.
“We tend to ask our young people to make significant contributions. We ask young people to get involved in local government,” Wamp said. “I think the need in Washington now for young people is as significant as it is in any level. Washington needs new ideas and, frankly, guts and courage to do the things necessary to put our country back in a strong fiscal condition, and you don’t see that now.”
He said the problems in the country are not as difficult as some might lead voters to believe.
“We just need people in office whose concern is more for the best long-term interest of the country rather than the next election cycle,” Wamp said.
“I think regardless of age, if have something to contribute to our country, we need you to step up now.”
Wamp’s critique of the incumbent is he “has gone with the flow and very little has changed.”
“Locally, the Chickamauga Lock is still unfunded and he has a track record that has set the standard pretty low. He’s has no pieces of sponsored legislation come out of committee onto the House floor,” Wamp said.
He said people in this area “are used to and expect and deserve excellent congressional representation.”
He cites as examples Bill Brock and his father.
“The expectations of those legacies were to have an impact on our behalf and not just to participate in Washington. And also, the expectations of leadership to get people around the table to get things done,” Wamp said.
He says it is unfortunate many in Congress do not see the art of compromise in a two-party political system as being good for the country.
“They are wrong because we have more than 230 years of history that shows we have to work together,” Wamp said. “I’m a very different candidate because I will tell you with no apologies we have to get back to that. We can stand on principals as conservatives and liberals, but what we can’t do is let our core beliefs impede getting things done for the country at a time when we can’t balance budgets, we’re not taking care of obvious problems and some of the solutions are not exactly rocket science.”
He said the economic “day of reckoning” is being made even worse by the inaction of a Congress which does not have the fortitude to tackle the hard issues at hand.
“I am encouraged because people are very clear they want a change in representation in Congress,” Wamp said. “But, I don’t want to just go fill a seat. I want to have an impact.”
He called last year’s shutdown of the government “a flippant and failed strategy.”
“It made our party look bad and it made us look like we weren’t serious,” Wamp said of the GOP. “We need less political rhetoric and more who will talk about the difficult decisions that have to be made to get back into a position of strength, and we’re not even close to that right now.”
He said what bothered him most about the shutdown was the effect it had on the thousands of government workers in the area.
“Their lives were basically put on hold because Congressman Fleischmann and others were just playing political games,” Wamp said.
He says “Obamacare” is a bad piece of legislation, but “Republicans can’t ignore the fact our country needs health care reform. So, I wish instead of pursuing what was a misguided strategy in the first place, we would talk more about conservative, free-market alternatives and solutions. We typically get pigeonholed as a party of negativists who complain and blame others.”
He said most who advocated the shutdown knew it was not a plausible strategy knowing the numbers were not there to repeal the health care act.
“They raised the expectations falsely of conservatives and that’s the worst of politics,” Wamp said.
He noted Sen. Bob Coker of Tennessee and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
“These are extremely conservative guys but they came out and said this was not the right way to govern the country,” Wamp said.
He said the first bill he wants to file is one to revise the congressional pension program.
“Congressional pensions have been designed to give, what I think, is a perverse incentive for members of Congress to stay longer than many want them to,” Wamp said. “It’s a bipartisan idea and I think it would be a step in the direction of people thinking Congress gets it, that they’re somewhat in touch. I think it would mean a lot.”
Wamp said people might be surprised to know he does not necessarily like politics.
“It’s from having grown up with and seeing the dark side of it,” he said. “The flip side of that is I have such a tremendous respect for public service in this country. At the end of the day I will be cast one way or another by a lot of people. I’m a young guy trying to make a difference. I saw public service as a vehicle for change my whole life. I’m not willing to join the chorus of cynics who don’t think our country can fix itself. I think it can.
“The politics of this wears on you. It wears on anybody who wants to live a peaceful life and enjoy their friends and families,” Wamp said. “I’m willing to go through it because I think there are certain things in our country that can’t be changed outside of the Congress. Congress is incredibly important to the future of our country. Our country is incredibly important to the future of the world.”