BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - Predicting he will win Thursday's GOP gubernatorial primary, Republican Zach Wamp today hammered away at GOP rival Bill Haslam, charging both Haslam and likely Democratic nominee Mike McWherter are the political equivalent of daddies' boys.
"There's not much difference between Mike McWherter and Bill Haslam. That's a fact," Wamp, a Chattanooga congressman, told cheering supporters during a stop at the City Cafe in Brentwood. "Both of them are really running on their daddies' fumes. They wouldn't even be in this game if it weren't for their fathers."
Knoxville Mayor Haslam is the son of Jim Haslam, founder of Pilot Corp., one of the nation's largest privately held businesses, and a major GOP donor for decades. McWherter, a businessman, is the son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, a Democrat.
Haslam spokesman David Smith said of Wamp's assertions that "we have an election tomorrow, and that's not worth a response."
Shelby White, a McWherter spokesman, noted "many things are said in the heat of battle, especially on the eve of an election. Two things are for sure: Mike McWherter is strongly opposed to a state income tax, and he will be in the race after tomorrow. We look forward to learning who our opponent will be in the general election."
Wamp said both candidates are "liberal to moderate on the issues. Both of their families have supported a state income tax in the past. We can't tolerate a state income tax in this state. I don't care how bad the economy is. I don't care how bad the revenues are for the state."
The elder McWherter unsuccessfully pushed a state income tax in 1991 and 1992. Haslam's father was part of a group promoting "tax reform" from 1999 to 2002 as then-Gov. Don Sundquist pushed a state income tax.
Haslam repeatedly has said he opposes a state income tax. The latest public poll in the contest, conducted two weeks ago, showed Haslam with 36 percent support and Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey with 25 percent and 20 percent support, respectively.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.