By Sarah Wagner
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) –If your list of life’s accomplishments consists of being a star athlete in your high school, raising a nice family in the area you grew up, and becoming a well-known and influential Congressman in the United States of America, your name might be Zach Wamp.
Zachary Paul Wamp, better known as Zach Wamp, was born on October 28, 1957, in Fort Benning, Georgia. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Tennessee’s third congressional district, which is based in Chattanooga and includes large parts of East Tennessee. He got into office January 3, 1995, and left exactly 16 years later. Wamp is a member of the Republican Party.
Although born in Georgia, he grew up in East Ridge, Tennessee. He went to McCallie School along with his two brothers, and graduated in 1976. He was very athletic throughout school and was the MVP of the varsity basketball team his senior year. In college, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. However, he didn’t graduate from either due to drug and alcohol problems.
After dropping out, Wamp joined a substance abuse program and got a job as a sales representative for Olan Mills photography company. Then, he later became a real estate broker and worked for his family’s architectural and development company. In 1989, he became the vice president of Charter Real Estate Corporation. He joined a different company, Fletcher Bright Co., three years later.
Also after leaving college, Wamp married his wife, Kimberly. Although raised, baptized, and confirmed in the Lutheran Church, he switched denominations after marriage. He is now an active member of one of Chattanooga’s Baptist churches. Zach and Kimberly have now been married for 24 years, and have two children together, a son named Weston and a daughter named Coty.
In politics, Wamp started out as precinct vice chairman of Gene Roberts 1983 Chattanooga mayoral campaign. He was later elected chairman of the Hamilton County, Tennessee Republican Party. After that, he became regional director for the state GOP. What Wamp is most known for, though, is his time as a U.S. Congressman.
In 1992, Wamp ran for the House of Representatives as a Republican but barely lost to nine-term Democrat Marilyn Loyd. Loyd did not run for reelection in 1994 however, and Wamp ran again. During the election, Wamp signed a Contract with America saying he would serve no more than six terms if elected and would not put a special emphasis on PAC money. After using a few other strategies to give him a possible edge, Wamp won the general election 52 percent of the vote. The sequential elections were not so close. He got re-elected for seven more terms after that (breaking his initial promise of serving no more than six terms). Also, he broke his other promise by taking interest in PAC contributions. He almost sought out a seat in the United States Senate (to take the place of Bill Frist) but decided not to in 2004.
During his time in the House, he served on the House Appropriations Committee on the Energy and Water Subcommittee. He was also a ranking member Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. He used his Republican principles to take the reigns on national issues like global security, preventive health care, and alternative energy. He was co-chairman of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus and also the co-chairman and founder of the Congressional Fitness Caucus. Wamp was also a huge part of the formation of the Tennessee Valley Technology Corridor.
In 2005, Wamp campaigned to be majority whip for the Republicans in the House. He did not get the position because Roy Blunt, the current majority whip, stayed in the position. In January 2009, Wamp made the announcement that he would run for Governor of Tennessee. After some remarks about health care reformation and the states possible need to separate from government, Wamp had the attention of the country. Even though he said his remarks were misinterpreted, he lost to Bill Haslam in the open primary on August 5, 2010.
He still resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee with his family.