published Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Chattanooga: Wamp draws crowd, solicits support


by Matt Wilson
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Zach Wamp

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Cold Saturday morning weather didn’t stop a crowd of nearly 400 from gathering at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo for a breakfast in support of U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp’s gubernatorial campaign.

“Congressman, you’ve got a few friends,” Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey joked, noting the 8 a.m. start time and the 14-degree temperature.

Rep. Wamp, R-Tenn., acknowledged that “the road ahead is tough,” but said he was bolstered by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd.

“I’ve never been motivated by power or money,” he said. “I’m motivated by impact.”

Still, Rep. Wamp needs campaign funds for his effort in the 2010 gubernatorial race, and his financial director, Corky Coker, asked attendees to pull out their checkbooks. He asked for donations as small as $5.

In his remarks, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield alluded to the financial prowess of one of Rep. Wamp’s GOP primary opponents, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, whose family owns the Pilot chain of travel centers.

“Wealth does not always win,” Mr. Littlefield said. “Performance wins.”

Mr. Ramsey told the audience he had asked Rep. Wamp to stay in Congress when Rep. Wamp told him he was considering a run for governor. But Rep. Wamp said his gubernatorial effort is a “just cause.”

“I’m doing it for the right reasons,” Rep. Wamp said.

Mr. Ramsey said he was convinced to help the eight-term congressman become Tennessee’s next governor.

“I’ll do everything I can to help you get elected,” Mr. Ramsey said he told Rep. Wamp.

Other speakers included state Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga; state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson; Rep. Wamp’s son, Weston; and former Hamilton County Commissioner Harold Coker.

Several other local state elected officials attended the breakfast.

Rep. Wamp has set up a Web site, www.zachwamp.com, which has Facebook and Twitter functions.

Term limits prevent Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen from seeking a third term as the state’s chief executive.

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