published Friday, August 6th, 2010

It’s Haslam vs. McWherter


by Cliff Hightower

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam won the Republican nomination for governor Thursday, dashing the hopes of his more conservative GOP rivals U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville.

His primary election victory sets up a Nov. 2 general election matchup between Haslam, 52, and Democratic nominee businessman Mike McWherter, 54, of Jackson.

Wamp, who had hoped to become the first governor from Hamilton County since J.B. Frazier in 1905, came in second place.

Republican candidate Basil Marceaux of Soddy-Daisy, who became an Internet sensation, spent nothing and received less than 1 percent of the vote.

Accompanied by his wife, Crissy, and the couple’s three children, Haslam told cheering supporters in a crowded Hilton Hotel ballroom in downtown Nashville that Tennessee “has to have a governor that has the right experience” to create jobs, move education forward and cut government in tough economic times.

  • photo
    Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam speaks to supporters on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010, in Nashville, Tenn., after he was declared the party's winner in Tennessee's primary election. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

He said his work over two decades in the private sector and six years as mayor provide that.

“So here’s my message tonight,” he said. “Come help us. Whether you’re a Republican, an independent, a Democrat, come help us. We all share the same desires and goals.”

Earlier, McWherter, with his father, former Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter, and current Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen looking on, said Republicans spent most of their time “arguing over who is the most conservative.”

Calling job creation his “No. 1 priority,” McWherter said, “I’m all about Main Street, and I think Bill Haslam is all about Wall Street.”

In conceding his loss, a still-defiant Wamp addressed his dispirited supporters at the Chattanoogan hotel Thursday night.

“We thought we had enough, but, at the end of the day, we didn’t have enough,” said the eight-term congressman, who gave up a safe U.S. House seat for his statewide bid.

Wamp was surrounded by his wife Kim, daughter Coty, son Weston and supporters who hugged him. The congressman said he had called Haslam and congratulated him.

Just before conceding, Wamp made an impromptu appearance on stage, telling his supporters he wanted to take time to praise God. He said he had been up in a hotel room watching election results and it was a “little depressing.”

Wamp pressed his supporters to make concessions and rally around Haslam and his campaign, even though he said he had been the victim of dirty campaign tactics.

Wamp said money controlled the race in the end.

“We couldn’t influence how much the Haslams spent,” Wamp said. “It was endless.”

He said he also felt the pressures of a huge backlash from the public against all things Washington, D.C. Wamp still has five months left to serve as a U.S. representative before giving up the seat.

Ramsey was more conciliatory.

“This is the beginning of the end,” he said. “I have called Bill Haslam and congratulated him on a well-run race. I look forward to working with him to advance our conservative policies.”

During the course of the 19-month campaign, Wamp sought to appeal to conservatives including evangelicals. Ramsey pursued the votes of gun owners and tea party activists, while Haslam sought to make his appeal as broad as possible.

In the end, though, all three Republican candidates spent their final weeks attacking each other in television ads.

Haslam drew fire for having raised property taxes 13 percent as mayor and having joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Wamp described him as a “liberal-to-moderate” candidate.

Wamp repeatedly attacked Haslam, whose family owns Pilot Corp., raising charges Pilot Travel Centers once faced state accusations it gouged customers on gas prices. Pilot settled the case without admitting guilt.

Meanwhile, Wamp was criticized for breaking his term limit pledge and voting for the federal bank bailout. His suggestion that states might consider seceding from the union if the federal government didn’t back off drew national headlines and criticism.

And Ramsey took heat for voting for a 1-cent-hike in the state’s sales tax, the largest tax increase in Tennessee history. He also made national news with comments to Chattanooga Republicans in which he likened Islam to a “cult.”

Spending by the top three major Republican candidates hit $14.7 million by July 26, and Wamp complained the independently wealthy Haslam continued to dump his own money into the contest.

Haslam spent at least $8.8 million, including $1.05 million out of his own pocket, more than twice the combined spending of his two main GOP rivals.

McWherter spent about $1.2 million.

The race is over who will succeed Bredesen, a popular governor who is term limited and cannot seek a third term.

The 49th governor will be sworn in on Jan. 15 and receive an annual salary of $170,340.

Republicans have scheduled an event for Saturday promoting unity in hard-fought races including the gubernatorial primary.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Fleischmann beats Smith in 3rd District

Article: It’s Haslam vs. McWherter



Follow this link to our Tennessee Elections 2010 website

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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grandmastaj said...

Imagine that. Wamp bitter and defiant to the end.

August 6, 2010 at 7:48 a.m.
Saban101 said...

What evidence do you have that Wamp and Ramsey are "more conservative" than Haslam? As long as he adheres to the state's Christian values of standing for life and traditional values, he is conservative enough for me, and he has pledged nothing less than that with his words and his deeds.

August 6, 2010 at 8:51 a.m.
matt_from_chatt said...

...He said he also felt the pressures of a huge backlash from the public against all things Washington, D.C...

You mean, like voting for bailouts? Yes, yes indeed that is backlash that you feel.

August 6, 2010 at 9:06 a.m.
librul said...

The state's Christian values????

They didn't help Zack the preacherman, now did they.

He showed his "loyalty" to Tennessee by telling his minions that he has "friends" in Australia and Saudi Arabia who might give him a job.

How about Siberia?

August 6, 2010 at 9:14 a.m.
jimfromthebay said...

Mr. Wamp , have you taken the time to reflect on the axiom that actions have consequences and that maybe voting lockstep on every horrendous Bush policy presented to you may have some blow back? I think its refreshing that Tennesseans set aside their provincialism long enough to vote for their best interest for once. To be honest hearing someone speak with certainty that they know what lies at the center of the universe was offputting to say the least. Good luck in Riyadh.

August 6, 2010 at 9:28 a.m.

It's laughable how the Prog Repubs and Dems tell the rest of us how much they hate the Washington Henchmen/women who buy votes and Lobbyists with their millions and power, then keep voting the same no-gooders in. The present bunch in Power are a perfect example of corruption and wealth gone rampant.

True and honest candidates with little to no money, ethics and values proven by their record of hard work and stable lives are completely ignored.

America, in the coming days, weeks and months, you will continue to get what you deserve: weak-willed, weak-kneed and weak-spined Pols diddling in Washington with your very lives. Let the games begin.

August 6, 2010 at 9:33 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

dang canary... I thought you were dead from lack of air.

August 6, 2010 at 9:38 a.m.
sallylittle2 said...

I looked everywhere for the # of Mcwherter's votes he received and I could not find them. Since he won the Democratic nomination you should have placed his picture on the front page of the Times Free Press alongside Haslam also. Quite rude to the rest of Tennessee who voted. You are ignoring people who read the Times who are not Republicans. I would have liked more attention on Mcwherter's success.

August 6, 2010 at 11:17 a.m.
Sailorman said...

"Haslam spent at least $8.8 million, including $1.05 million out of his own pocket, more than twice the combined spending of his two main GOP rivals."

And there you have it. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

August 6, 2010 at 11:46 a.m.
harrystatel said...

Wamp’s Big Finale (Sung to the tune Red River Valley)

From this Congress you’ve been told you are leaving, No more lies and deceit will we take. You went up to the Capitol as a straight man, But came back, bent and crooked as a snake.

Come and sit by my side and start whining, How the world is against your right stand. That you’re God’s chosen one in “The Family” And how Lucifer is now in command.

Now I know that you think God is crying That He must be upset you didn’t win. But I’m sure He’ll get over it tomorrow As the stream of His wackos never end.

So the Aussies and Saudis they want you For the favors and funds that you’ve shared. Just remember that we’ll all be a-watching Seeing who hires the ethically impaired.

So goodbye and good riddance from the people Who decided that you had to go. But your actions will live in our memories Of little tyrants who love their status quo.

Harry Statel

harrystatel.wordpress.com

August 6, 2010 at 11:58 a.m.
tennstar said...

For the people who backed Zach--"Zach Won't Be Back"

August 6, 2010 at 12:39 p.m.
Jimtbo said...

Wamp and Ramsey are both career politicians while Haslem has some real life experience. To me that was "big" state wide. Wamp says that perhaps there was a little anti D.C. in the vote. He's right there by me. He and the founding fathers have little in common with his campaign finance reform vote. Long live free speech and "GO" Tea Party!!

August 6, 2010 at 3:09 p.m.
NoMyth said...

Wamp has never had an original idea or demonstrated an ability to lead, whereas Haslam comes across as a fairly intelligent guy with some capacity to lead and do good things. It's that simple. The people noticed the difference and voted accordingly.

August 6, 2010 at 9:45 p.m.
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