Despite Congress having a 17 percent approval rating nationwide, 4th District Rep. Scott DesJarlais welcomed the second-ranking member of the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, to a Chattanooga fundraiser early Friday morning.
Aides for DesJarlais would not confirm the amount raised during the $500-per-plate breakfast at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, but approximately 35 people attended. Cantor was scheduled to participate in a $1,000-per-person fundraiser for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in Knoxville later in the day.
Among those in the room was Sen. Bob Corker, who spoke before both DesJarlais and Cantor and said he "happened" to be in town that morning.
When asked if he would attend a similar event in support of Fleischmann, Corker never gave a conclusive answer.
"I'm basically not involved in the 3rd District race right now, and haven't been," Corker said. "We tried to coordinate doing something [last summer], but we had numbers of votes—actually we had two different events set up that were [last] summer as a matter of fact—but we were not able to put them together because of House or Senate votes."
Although speculation had been forming, neither of Fleischmann's most serious challengers Scottie Mayfield or Weston Wamp, the son of former 3rd District Rep. Zach Wamp, had declared their candidacies in the summer of 2011.
When a reporter asked Corker if he thought Fleischmann was a better candidate than either of his opponents, he declined to comment.
"You know, y'all are doing a great job," he added.
DesJarlais said he was happy to have the support of Tennessee's junior senator.
"Sen. Corker is a man that is very principled; he's not in politics because he wants to be a politician," DesJarlais said. "He's got a tremendous economic background, and he's a great asset to the Senate."
Following the fundraiser, Cantor praised both DesJarlais and Fleischmann, calling them "principled conservatives" who were working hard every day to address the challengers of Tennessee's working families. When asked for his thoughts on Fleischmann's battle against Wamp, the son of one of his former colleagues, Cantor said he didn't know Weston Wamp.
"I am strongly behind Chuck Fleischmann in this race," Cantor said. "Chuck Fleischmann is the kind of new face that I think this area needs to represent the views of the people here, and he's an effective leader."
Although Fleischmann faces serious challengers in the Aug. 2 Republican primary, DesJarlais is campaigning hard against state Sen. Eric Stewart, a Democrat, in the 4th District.
Sign up for our email list to get your morning news delivered directly to your inbox. All we need is your email address.