Curdled count? Mayfield disputes, but concedes Congressional race
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The numbers would give freshman U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann enough confidence to call it a victory before he would call it a night in his bid for the Republican nomination for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District.
"The people of Tennessee are gonna have me playing first base (on the House softball team) for a for a long time to come," Fleischmann tells cheering supporters in Chattanooga Tuesday night.
But one of his three challengers, retired dairyman Scottie Mayfield, would need another 12 hours before he would acknowledge defeat.
"I have no problem conceding if the vote is the way it is," Mayfield tells reporters in his hometown of Athens Thursday night. "But I'm just being told to wait. It's not that I'm being stubborn here, it's just that I'm following directions."
Apparently, those directions came from his campaign consultant, former Tennessee Republican Chairman Tommy Hopper. Sources say Hopper's own polling showed Mayfield winning or running strongly in Hamilton county, and winning most of the District's farm counties.
The poll was spot on for the rural counties, but Mayfield finished a distant third in Hamilton County, to Weston Wamp, son of former Congressman Zach Wamp, whom Fleischmann replaced, and Fleischmann himself.
"Some folks in Chattanooga told me the (Hamilton County) Election Commission doesn't seem to be completely sure of the vote," Mayfield says.
Commission Chairman Mike Walden confirms, one precinct presented problems: Eastdale.
"It was a human error," he says. "We pulled the card out too quickly. No good deed goes unpunished; we were trying to get the returns quickly for candidates who wanted them."
Walden says that Commission workers corrected the error by reloading the vote card.
The new totals give Todd Gardenhire another 25 votes of 'breathing room' in his squeaker win over Greg Vital as the Republican nominee for Tennessee's 10th District Senate seat.
The recount hasn't changed the Congressional race totals.
Via email, Hopper maintains that Hamilton County's results still contain an "anomaly that can't be explained."
"No one has accused anyone of doing anything wrong," Hopper writes, "but a number of observers agree there are some unusual aspects to the results."
"There is no process for challenging this other than an election contest," Hopper's email continues, "and that doesn't seem appropriate at this time."
Walden and Commission Director Charlotte Mullis-Morgan tell Channel 3 they're confident that Hamilton County has a fair and accurate count.
"The machines were set up and loaded properly, absolutely," Walden says.
Mayfield would concede the race to Fleischmann just before 2PM EDT Friday, both camps confirm.
"If there were any tabulation errors, that should be uncovered in the certification process," Hopper's email concludes.
"We do not plan on pursuing any legal options at this time. We wish Chuck well and appreciate the support for our campaign and all voters who voted."