NASHVILLE - Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said Monday that he decided to jump into the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary because Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam is on a roll and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., and Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons are not.
Lt. Gov. Ramsey, the Senate speaker, announced over the weekend he is running for the GOP nomination. He told the Kingsport Times News on Monday he had hoped to wait until after the legislative session was over before announcing but decided he could no longer wait.
"People were telling me I was losing five to 10 people a day with Haslam out there beating the bushes," he told the newspaper. "I don't think Zach is catching on. I don't think Bill Gibbons is catching on, but Haslam is working harder plus he has the money. ... I just couldn't wait any longer."
U.S. Rep. Wamp ignored a request to comment.
Mr. Haslam, whose family owns Pilot Travel Centers and are major GOP fundraisers, recently reported raising $1.4 million at his first GOP fundraiser in Knoxville. U.S. Rep. Wamp announced he raised more than $600,000 from a February fundraiser.
Lt. Gov. Ramsey said U.S. Rep. Wamp was "halfway aggravated" over his decision. "He said, 'I can't believe you're doing this.' It almost aggravated me. I said, 'Let me make sure I understand this, Zach, I've been toiling in the state legislature for 17 years and took us three seats down to five seats up (from Senate minority to majority) ... and you're going to be upset?'"