Zach Wamp

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Zach Wamp
Zach wamp official.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byMarilyn Lloyd
Succeeded byChuck Fleischmann
Personal details
Zachary Paul Wamp

(1957-10-28) October 28, 1957 (age 62)
Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Kimberly Wamp; 2 children
ResidenceChattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.
Alma materMcCallie School
OccupationReal estate broker

Zachary Paul Wamp (born October 28, 1957) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 3rd congressional district from 1995 to 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district is based in Chattanooga and includes large parts of East Tennessee, including Oak Ridge.

Early life, education, and pre-congressional career[edit]

Wamp was born in Fort Benning, Georgia, and grew up in East Ridge, Tennessee, a community adjacent to Chattanooga, where his father worked as an architect. He attended The Lutheran School, a Lutheran elementary school. Later, with his two brothers, he attended The McCallie School, an all-male prep school in Chattanooga, as a day student, from the age of 11 until he graduated in 1976. He was president of the student council, active in athletics, and was the MVP of the varsity basketball team at McCallie in 1976. He was baptized, raised and confirmed in the Lutheran Church. He spent his freshman year at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1977–78 and briefly returned in 1979–80 after his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville between (1978–79). However, he graduated from neither and struggled with drug and alcohol problems as a student before ultimately dropping out of college.[1]

After leaving college, Wamp rebounded and became a national sales supervisor for Olan Mills, a photography company based in Chattanooga that primarily produces church directories, and later a successful commercial and industrial real estate broker. He worked in his family's architectural and development business and became vice president of Charter Real Estate Corporation in 1989. In 1992, he joined Fletcher Bright Co. in Chattanooga as a commercial and industrial real estate broker.[citation needed]

He began his career in politics as a precinct vice chairman and Youth Coordinator for the 1983 Chattanooga mayoral campaign of Gene Roberts. He became President of the Young Republicans and was later elected chairman of the Hamilton County, Tennessee Republican Party, then regional director for the Tennessee GOP.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Wamp ran for the House of Representatives as a Republican in 1992 against nine-term Democrat Marilyn Lloyd. He nearly scored a major upset, only losing by 1.3 points—only 2,900 votes out of 210,000 total votes cast.

When Lloyd did not run for re-election in 1994, Wamp ran again. Battling through a hotly contested primary, he easily defeated his childhood friend and sitting State Representative Kenneth J. Meyer by nearly two to one. During the race, Wamp signed the Contract with America. He also personally committed to serve only six terms if elected and further committed to not accept special interest PAC money. He proposed a plan to pay congressmen the same as Lieutenant Colonels and linked his Democratic opponent, Randy Button, to Bill Clinton. Wamp won the general election with 52% of the vote, during the Republican Revolution. He likely got coattails from Bill Frist and Fred Thompsons strong 1994 statewide elections, and was helped in 1996 by Lloyd crossing party lines to endorse him. After his first two elections, he never faced another close contest, and was reelected seven times. From 1998 onward, he won by 64 percent or more of the vote. Wamp explored seeking a seat in the United States Senate to succeed Bill Frist, who had promised to serve no more than two terms. He decided against running for that seat in October 2004.

Wamp with U.S. Representative Lincoln Davis

When he was elected to the House in 1994, Wamp pledged to serve just twelve years (six terms) in the House. However, shortly after winning reelection to a sixth term in 2004, Wamp announced he would run again in 2006 after all, citing his status as Tennessee's only member of the powerful Appropriations Committee. The pledge was "a mistake," he told the Associated Press in 2004.[2]

Wamp faced Brent Benedict, a computer programmer and consultant. During the campaign, Benedict made an issue of Wamp breaking his term limit pledge, saying that he would hold himself to six terms if elected.[3] Despite this, Wamp was easily reelected.

Following the GOP losing the U.S. House and U.S. Senate in the 2006 midterm elections, Wamp reflected on the defeat saying, "For the first six years of the 12 years, we were focused on policy and principles, and politics was secondary. The second six years, politics became primary: raising money, going negative, consolidating power."[4]


He won re-election with 69% of the vote, his best election performance.


Wamp was a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, a post he has used to champion what he called his highest legislative priority—funding for his district's decaying lock at the Chickamauga Dam.[5][6] In 2006, the eight-year, $349 million project was approved, but Wamp has had to continually work to protect the project from budget cuts and shortfalls.[7] Indeed, he cited his status as the only Tennessean on that committee as a reason for dropping his original term-limit pledge. He also secured in the 2006 budget a $4 million appropriation for a methamphetamine task force[citation needed], which was started in 1999 and has since expanded to all regions of Tennessee. Wamp has vigorously supported the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the largest government-owned firms in the United States.

Wamp supported legislation to allow the posting of the Ten Commandments in public buildings. He changed his vote from "nay" to "yea" on the bill of the Wall Street bailout,[8] but later has said he regrets that vote.[9] In 2003, he was one of two congressmen to have received a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union.[10]

2005 run for Majority Whip

In the wake of Tom DeLay's indictment in September 2005, Wamp campaigned among his fellow Republican House members to become the majority whip, the number three position in the Republican House leadership.[11] Representatives Ray LaHood and Gil Gutknecht agreed to co-chair his campaign for the position. However, the incumbent, Roy Blunt, remained the majority whip because Blunt lost his race for Majority Leader (the position was won by John Boehner in February 2006).

Committee assignments[edit]

Wamp served on the Liberty Caucus (sometimes called the Liberty Committee), a Republican group that focuses on reducing the size of the US Government. Congressman Ron Paul hosts a luncheon for the Liberty Caucus every Thursday.

2010 gubernatorial election[edit]

Wamp speaking during his campaign, at the 2010 Tennessee Governor's Luncheon

On January 5, 2009, Wamp announced that he would run for Governor of Tennessee in the Republican primaries.[12] In the primary, he placed second with 29% of the vote.

On July 23, 2010, Hotline OnCall published statements made by Wamp in an interview, in which he said that the health care reforms proposed during the Obama administration had placed state governments in "an untenable position". Wamp also suggested the possibility of secession arising from opposition to the federal government, stating "I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government", as well as expressing support for Texas Governor Rick Perry's similar statements regarding secession.[13] Wamp's statements drew national attention, prompting Wamp to state that his remarks were misinterpreted, and that he did not support secession.[14] Opponent Ron Ramsey labeled the remarks Wamp's "over-the-top temperament and overheated, sometimes crazy rhetoric".[15]

Wamp was unsuccessful in his bid to be the Republican candidate for Tennessee's Governor, losing to Bill Haslam in the August 5, 2010 open primary.[16]

Electoral history[edit]

Tennessee's 3rd congressional district: Results 1992–2006[17]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Marilyn Lloyd 105,693 49% Zach Wamp 102,763 47% Carol Hagan Independent 4,433 2% Pete Melcher Independent 2,048 1% *
1994 Randy Button 73,839 46% Zach Wamp 84,583 52% Thomas Morrell Independent 1,929 1% Richard M. Sims Independent 1,498 1% *
1996 Charles N. Jolly 85,714 43% Zach Wamp 113,408 56% William A. Cole Independent 1,002 <1% Walt Ward Independent 718 <1% *
1998 James M. Lewis 37,144 33% Zach Wamp 75,100 66% Richard M. Sims Independent 1,468 1% *
2000 William Callaway 75,785 35% Zach Wamp 139,840 64% Trudy Austin Libertarian 3,235 1% *
2002 John Wolfe 58,824 34% Zach Wamp 112,254 65% William Bolen Independent 1,743 1% Timothy A. Sevier Independent 947 1% *
2004 John Wolfe 84,295 33% Zach Wamp 166,154 65% June Griffin Independent 3,018 1% Doug Vandagriff Independent 1,696 1% *
2006 Brent Benedict 68,324 34% Zach Wamp 130,791 66% *
2008 Doug Vandagriff 73,030 27% Zach Wamp 184,787 69% Jean Howard-Hill Independent 4,846 2% Ed Choate Independent 3,749 1% *
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, Marjorie M. Martin received 1,593 votes (1%) and write-ins received 3 votes. In 1994, write-ins received 4 votes. In 1996, Thomas Ed Morrell received 304 votes; Richard M. "Dick" Sims received 294 votes; and write-ins received 4 votes. In 1998, write-ins received 74 votes. In 2000, write-ins received 80 votes. In 2002, write-ins received 153 votes. In 2004, Jean Howard-Hill received 1,473 votes (1%).

Personal life[edit]

Zach and his wife, Kim, have two children and three grandchildren.[18]


  1. ^ "Wamp emphasizes 'second chance' after drug past". Knoxville News Sentinel. December 10, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  2. ^ Stone, Andrea (April 12, 2006). "Term-limit pledges get left behind". USA Today. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  3. ^ Wang, Herman (September 21, 2006). "Benedict criticizes Wamp for violating term limit pledge". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  4. ^ Wolf, Richard (April 1, 2008). "Republicans of '94 revolution reflect on '06". USA Today.
  5. ^ "Chattanooga: New lock takes shape at Chickamauga Dam". Chattanooga Times Free Press. August 11, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  6. ^ Flessner, Dave (August 12, 2008). "Tennessee: Different funding source may be needed to finish project". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  7. ^ Flessner, Dave (March 14, 2008). "Waterways funding shortfall puts squeeze on Chickamauga Lock". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  8. ^ Legge, Joe (August 3, 2010). "Tennessee Governor's Race Candidate Profile: Zach Wamp". WDEF-TV.
  9. ^ Wilson, Matt (April 5, 2009). "Tennessee: Bailout backers got gifts from banks". Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  10. ^ "Wamp Receives ACU Conservative Honor". The Chattanoogan. May 7, 2010.
  11. ^ VandeHei, Jim; Amy Goldstein (September 30, 2005). "A Scramble To Fill Vacuum Left by DeLay". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  12. ^ Wilson, Matt (January 5, 2009). "Update: Rep. Wamp will seek governor's seat, asks local Pachyderm Club for support". Chattanooga Times Free Press. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
  13. ^ Roem, Dan (July 23, 2010). "Health Care Law Has Wamp Hoping Against Secession". National Journal. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  14. ^ Humphrey, Tom (July 23, 2010). "Wamp says he does not want secession". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  15. ^ Kolawole, Emi (July 23, 2010). "GOP Rep. Zach Wamp talks of secession". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ Cliff Hightower and Andy Sher (August 6, 2010). "It's Haslam vs. McWherter". Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  17. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
  18. ^ Miller, Joshua (August 2, 2012). "Tennessee: Chuck Fleischmann Wins Primary". RollCall. Retrieved August 8, 2012.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Marilyn Lloyd
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Chuck Fleischmann