CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Zach Wamp told Republicans across the 3rd Congressional District on Friday that his gubernatorial ambitions for 2010 won't interfere with his work as a congressman.
Rep. Wamp met with area Republicans in Cleveland and commented on this week's events in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
He called the election of Republican state Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethton as House speaker "the dark side of politics" and said, "We have to focus on the bright side."
The state House's Democrats united to elect Mr. Williams speaker over Republican Rep. Jason Mumpower, of Bristol. The GOP house members called Mr. Williams a traitor and worse.
"It was ugly but we will be fine," Rep. Wamp said at a reception at Ocoee Middle School.
"It ought to motivate us, though, to make sure to run the numbers up so that kind of stuff can't happen, so that one person can't walk away from his word and mess up," he said.
He also warned about the proposed stimulus spending proposed by President-elect Barack Obama.
"I'm a Republican and I am not proud of what happened when we spent too much and lost our way," he said. "But it doesn't make it right for them to be doing it now."
Rep. Wamp said he will stay focused on his job in Washington even as he seeks the party's nomination for governor in 2010.
"I've been all over the district reassuring everybody I am going to work all the way through this term," he said.
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons have said they will seek the Republican nomination.
Democratic former state Rep. Kim McMillan has said she will run, and state Economic and Community Development Director Matt Kisber said Friday he might run as a Democrat as well.
Rep. Wamp said that at the end of this term he'll have 16 years in Congress and an East Tennessee advantage. He said he's gotten strong signs of support from traditional Republican areas across the state.
"I will be outspent, grossly," he said. "I will not be outworked. It's not who has the most money wins but who has the most support."
Rep. Wamp called Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland one of his best friends.
Afterward, Mr. Rowland said he is endorsing Rep. Wamp "150 percent" and may travel with him during the campaign.
"He is a great friend of this area," Mr. Rowland said.