NASHVILLE - Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey may have his differences with Gov. Bill Haslam, but Ramsey said today he has no intention of seeking a 2014 rematch with Haslam, who defeated him in last year's Republican gubernatorial primary.
"No," Ramsey told reporters today. "Period. Under no circumstances. Not even on my radar screen."
Ramsey said he "had a wonderful experience running for governor in 2010, and if anything, Gov. Haslam and I became better friends through that process, and I cannot see any circumstance where I would run for governor again."
The speaker, whose position also carries the title of lieutenant governor, sought to downplay recent disagreements he and Haslam have had in areas such as Ramsey's push to abolish collective bargaining for teachers. Haslam has swung his support behind a plan to limit but not end union negotiations.
Ramsey and Haslam recently put up dueling posts on their Facebook pages about the issue. They also have disagreed about elections for state Supreme Court justices and the state attorney general. Ramsey has become rallying point for conservative hardliners and tea party activists, who have been critical of Haslam. The speaker has denounced their sometimes harsh criticism of Haslam.
The speaker accused reporters of exaggerating his differences with Haslam, but the topic has captivated Republicans, Democrats and independent observers alike.
Meanwhile, Ramsey said he is not trying to snatch Haslam's thunder when it comes to cracking down on government bureaucracy.
Haslam has talked about cutting rules and regulations. Ramsey this week formally unveiled a website, TNREDTAPE.com.
It is intended to serve as a clearinghouse of sorts for businesses with complaints about bureaucratic gripes. Redtape stands for Ridiculous Employee Decisions That Affect People Everyday.
Noting he gave Haslam a head's up before his news conferences, Ramsey said, "I guess the only concern he had at all was legitimate in the fact that now those departments that we're going to try to cut the red tape in are his departments.
"But," Ramsey said, "I explained to him that I think this is the perfect time to do that because he hasn't put his stamp on those departments. And this is something we can do in unison."