I have to say, it doesn’t look like the Tennessee gubernatorial race is creating a lot of heat around this part of the state yet. As long as District Attorney General Bill Gibbons was in the race, I think there was hope of some local interest. It was too bad Gibbons dropped out of the race, although I don’t know that it was a complete surprise. He didn’t do that well when he ran for Memphis mayor in ’87, so why would he be able to raise the kind of money he’d need to mount a statewide campaign?
Since Gibbons and State Senator Jim Kyle dropping out, there’s no one from this corner of the state left in the race, and that could have some impact on how much attention we pay to it around here. That means the people left in the race are going to have to toss some cash to the local TV stations to introduce themselves to the voting public and gain some of that precious name recognition that’s so important in politics.
I suppose Mike McWherter, son of former Governor Ned McWherter, sort of counts as a candidate from West Tennessee, but I don’t think he’s nearly as well-known as his dad. Ned Ray seemed like a real force of nature. I’ve met a few governors in my day (including Mr. Clinton of Arkansas), and Gov. McWherter seemed, well, gubernatorial.
I think the Republican candidates may have the edge this time around. The three major Republicans poll in front of the younger McWherter. All of them are running TV spots in Memphis, which has got to make the stations happy (the only thing nearly as good as car dealer money to TV folks is political money). The mayor of Knoxville, Bill Haslam, has the advantage of family money, or at least he promotes himself as a part of building the Pilot gas station business. His spots tout how he’s built up Knoxville’s rainy day fund while making painful budget cuts. Of course, if you have enough money to put it in the bank, do you have to make “painful” cuts?
State Senator Ron Ramsey‘s spots take an anti-Washington tone. It seems that Tennessee’s major money troubles aren’t necessarily the fault of the national government. As the leading legislator of the majority party, don’t you think it would be better to have a list of accomplishments on fixing our own problems, instead of threatening to kick all those elitists out of the state with his fancy boots?
My favorite GOP candidate is 3rd District Congressman Zach Wamp, for obvious reasons. Here’s a guy who actually signed the Contract with America when he was first elected to the House. Wait, here’s a better indication of the kind of guy Zach is. When he was elected in 1994, he promised to only serve six terms in the House and to never take money from political action committees (you have to know where this is going). He’s currently in his eighth term (says that promise was a “mistake”). And he has accepted PAC money.
According to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, there are 15 other candidates for governor on November’s ballot. Take the time to listen to any or all of them to hear whether any of them have anything specific to say on fixing Tennessee’s problems… or whether their focus is knocking the other guys or pandering to the angry electorate by running against the majority in Washington. Guys remember this – we aren’t all Tea Partiers!