tres wittum

Congressional candidate Wittum escorted from GOP fundraiser after outburst

A sign in the Senate Finance Committee office in Nashville indicates aide Tres Wittum is on leave while running for Congress. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican congressional candidate Tres Wittum was removed from the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner fundraiser after causing a disturbance when House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally took the stage.

According to witnesses, Sen. John Stevens escorted Wittum out of the ballroom when he started loudly berating McNally, Sexton, and others. Wittum was a longtime aide to Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga) before taking leave to run for the new 5th Congressional District.

UPDATE: Wittum responds:

This weekend Republicans from all over Tennessee came together to celebrate the accomplishments of our party and most importantly, the future of our party.  Like President Trump, I can be very vocal against the the establishment swamp — even in our party. Our state and our country are run by political establishment. I’ll stand up to my party. I’ll always stand up to the left. But in the end, I will always stand up for hard working Tennesseans and I’ll never back down.

Director of Legislative Adminstration Connie Ridley said Wittum had been informed late last month that he would not be returning to work at the General Assembly following his leave. The discussion took place before Saturday’s incident.

Sexton said Wittum’s “actions were out of character with the person we have interacted with in the past.”

”I think Mr. Wittum has had a bad week and compounded it at the Statesmen’s Dinner,” Sexton said in a statement. ”Hopefully, it was just a a one-time incident that he regrets, and we can all move past it.”

Sexton’s comments appear to refer to a social media post that made the rounds earlier in the weekend suggesting Wittum had been heavily inebriated.

McNally’s office declined to comment.

The primary election is on Thursday.

Tres is out on leave: Wittum joins 5th District race

A sign in the Senate Finance Committee office in Nashville indicates aide Tres Wittum is on leave while running for Congress. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tres Wittum, an aide to state Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga), has joined the field seeking the Republican nomination for the open 5th Congressional District Seat.

Other candidates seeking the GOP nod include Beth Harwell, Baxter Lee, Andy Ogles, Morgan Ortagus, Robby Starbuck, and Kurt Winstead — though some of those have having their Republican bona fides challenged with the party.

Here’s Wittum’s release:

Nashville, TN – Tres Wittum announces bid for the 5th Congressional district. In a video released on Treswittum.com, Tres set a course for the campaign “ “For the first time in nearly 150 years, the Tennessee 5th Congressional District has an opportunity to pick a new kind of leadership. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been out talking to Tennesseans, listening to their concerns – but also hearing their vision and hope for the future.”

In the announcement Tres also outlined the next steps in the campaign, “In the coming weeks, I’ll be out traveling the district. If you see me, I hope you’ll stop me and share your Tennessee story, so together we can go to Washington and let them know that the Tennessee Volunteer spirit is alive and ready to lead this country in the right direction.”

Tres announced that the campaign will be sharing many of those “Tennessee stories” on the campaign website TresWittum.com as well as the campaign’s social media.

Tres Wittum has been active Tennessee politics for over 15 years. Wittum also has served the Tennessee Senate since 2011, in the Senate Speaker Pro Tempore’s office as well as the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee. Tres came to Nashville from Cleveland, TN in 2008. He is a graduate of University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Tres is a bona fide Republican whose credentials are unchallenged and will be on the ballot in the Republican primary on August 4th.

Watson aide Wittum leaning toward congressional bid in new 5th District

Senate Finance Chairman Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga) and other check their watches awaiting the time for Gov. Bill Lee, right, to enter the House chamber to deliver his first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tres Wittum, a research analyst to state Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga), is considering a bid for the newly drawn 5th Congressional District.

Wittum, who once mulled a Republican primary challenge of U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in the 3rd District, was among potential 5th District candidates introducing themselves at a Wilson County Republican Party event over the weekend.

“I have worked in the Tennessee legislature for 11 years,” he said. “I do serve the chairman of Senate Finance, Ways, and Means, who is a tough, tough, tough fiscal hawk. So when it comes to budgeting, believe me, I have been educated by the best.”

Wittum was briefly the chair of the Davidson County Republican Party in 2017, but was ousted by the GOP’s state executive committee after a challenge to his bona fides for failing to have voted in enough statewide primaries.

Wittum noted that he first came to Tennessee to work on the 2009 Hannah Montana movie.

“It’s kind of like deja vu. It’s like, you worked on movie where you’re trying to save a community through Tennessee values away from the big construction from New York and LA, which is interesting, because it looks like we’re probably gonna be doing that here in this congressional race.”

“Politics is like Hollywood for the ugly,” he said. “So, here here I am. And I’m ready to play. Thank you.”

Those running for the Republican nomination so far include former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, former U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, music video producer Robby Starbuck, and retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead. Businessman Baxter Lee has filed papers to raise money, but hasn’t formally announced his candidacy.