The campaign for Scottie Mayfield announced Monday that the dairy mogul and first-time candidate for Congress raised nearly half a million in funds for his campaign in the first three months of 2012, breaking the previous 3rd District record and solidifying his status as a serious challenger to Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.
But just how much cash-on-hand Mayfield has left to spend on his campaign remains to be seen.
Since entering the race in early February, Mayfield hasn't spared expenses, surrounding himself with an experienced campaign staff and employing the use of a top Washington D.C., polling firm. To fuel his machine, the candidate has participated in several fundraisers around the district, including a recent $1,000-per-couple event at the Walden Club.
Attempts by Nooga.com to reach Mayfield or members of his staff Monday were unsuccessful. In a news release, Tommy Hopper, a general consultant for Mayfield, said he had never known a challenger to out-raise an incumbent during a quarterly period in his 30 years of working on political campaigns.
"Voters have a clear choice among three very different candidates, and that's a good thing and how it should work," Hopper, a former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, said.
Hopper's suggestion of a "clear choice" has not lined up with recent comments from Mayfield. When asked last month by a Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter to identify issues where he differed from Fleischmann, Mayfield did not name any.
In the news release, Mayfield listed Republican talking points such as cutting spending, balancing the budget and getting the economy moving again as parts of his message, along with building an energy-dependent future and protecting constitutional rights of citizens.
The proposals fall in line with those espoused by both Fleischmann and challenger Weston Wamp, who released their own campaign finance summaries for the first quarter last week.
Fleischmann reported raising "more than $200,000" since January, which will leave the incumbent with more than $750,000 cash-on-hand to put toward re-election efforts. Wamp, the son of former 3rd District Rep. Zach Wamp, reported raising $175,000, bringing his cash-on-hand total to more than $486,000.
Campaign finance disclosures will reveal the full amounts and details of each candidate's expenses and contributions when they are released after the filing deadline of April 15.
Less than four months remain before the Aug. 2 Republican primary election. Along with Mayfield and Wamp, Republican Ron Bhalla will be challenging Fleischmann.
Dr. Mary Headrick and Bill Taylor are competing for the Democratic nomination.