published Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Wamp: Prayer an 'equalizer' in campaign

by Matt Wilson

U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp told a large crowd of supporters Friday that one of the things he's most thankful for is their prayers and called his gubernatorial run "a spiritual journey."

On Friday, Rep. Wamp, R-Tenn., finished an 11-stop campaign kickoff tour in Chattanooga with remarks at the Hamilton County Courthouse, where he said his new motto is "knees down, chin up." He told the crowd that prayer, along with family, vision and his supporters will serve as an "equalizer" in the race.

The Chattanooga congressman argued that the gubernatorial campaign of fellow Republican Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has spent nearly $2 million in the race so far. He said the governor's race is "emerging as a two-person race" between him and Mr. Haslam.

David Smith, spokesman for Mr. Haslam's campaign, said they weren't counting out any candidates.

"Last time we checked, there were four candidates in the Republican primary," he said. "We're comfortable letting the voters sort it out."

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., officially announces his candidacy for governor of Tennessee at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Friday morning.

On the faith issue, Mr. Smith said prayer plays "a large role" in the Haslam campaign.

"Bill and his wife, Crissy, spent considerable time praying about running for governor and, in the end, felt led in that direction," he said.

Brad Todd, spokesman for Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville and another gubernatorial candidate, took exception to the assertion that only Rep. Wamp and Mr. Haslam are contenders.

"It's laughable to hear the candidate who is in third place in gathering support around the state suggest that it's just a two-man race," he said. "Lt. Gov. Ramsey respects all three of his Republican opponents and he's confident he will win this race whether there are two, three, four, or 50 other candidates."

Josh Thomas, campaign manager for Republican Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons, another GOP candidate for the governor's job, said Rep. Wamp's own polling shows "a wide-open race."

"Mr. Gibbons' personal story as a self-made man is inspiring, and being the only candidate west of Chattanooga is certainly helpful," Mr. Thomas said.

In regard to Rep. Wamp's prayer statement, Mr. Todd said Lt. Gov. Ramsey's "faith is the source of his strength," while Mr. Thomas said prayer is "an integral part of all of (Mr. Gibbons') life."

On the Democratic side, Mike Kopp, spokesman for candidate Mike McWherter, said Mr. McWherter is focusing on the Democratic primary first.

"What's emerging on the other side of the political aisle is of little concern to our campaign at this time," he said.


Rep. Wamp filed paperwork Friday to officially qualify for the governor's race. The deadline for filing qualifying petitions for state races is April 1.

Mr. Kopp said Mr. McWherter is a "devout Christian," but "has not chosen to wear it on his political sleeve."

Spokesmen for the campaigns of former U.S. Rep. Kim McMillan, D-Clarksville, and state Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, could not be reached for comment.

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tennrepublican said...

3rd in gathering support across the state?

Last time I checked, Zach has raised the 2nd most money and wins just about every straw poll...

February 20, 2010 at 12:07 a.m.
johnh said...

Ramsey loaned his campaign $200,000. That money will never be spent. Every poll shows it is Zach's race right now with Haslam second and ramsey no where in sight.

Ramsey should start his tv campaign if he wants anyone to know who he is.

February 20, 2010 at 9:47 a.m.
MountainJoe said...

If straw poll numbers meant anything, Ron Paul would be President now.

Why should Ramsey spend all his money now? The election isn't until August. He can't afford to spend megabucks all the way through like Haslam can. He has to get more bang for the buck.

It is probably Haslam's race to buy if he really wants it, just like Corker bought the Senate seat. Ramsey is the dark horse ... if he runs a smart race and gets himself some good exposure during the legislative session, he could pull off the upset. Wamp's only hope is some major mis-steps by the other two.

February 20, 2010 at 10:22 a.m.
johnh said...

Ramsey could not win a congressional district race mcuh less a state race. Haslam is already referring to him as his BOY.

February 20, 2010 at 9:38 p.m.
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