Doing Bidness

Waiting for the other boot to drop

I have no opinion as to who should be the next governor of Tennessee. Given the state’s current economic situation, as well as the peculiarities of the legislature, I don’t feel that any of the leading candidates can really turn things around, although Ron Ramsey‘s got a sweet pair of cowboy boots. That is, judging from the one he’s showing off on his website.

Bill's Year?

Ned Ray's Boy

If we take the state’s shift to the right, along with recent poll results, it would seem that Bill Haslam, currently mayor of Knoxville, has the inside track on winding up in recently renovated governor’s mansion. The latest poll from the Tennessee Newspaper Network (a cooperative effort of the state’s four largest newspapers) show Mayor Haslam leading his Republican opponents, Ramsey and Congressman Zach Wamp. The putative Democratic nominee, Mike McWherter, hasn’t don’t a lot of advertising, mostly because he has no competition. While he is the son of a former governor, he holds no office of his own and will also have to battle the GOP-tilt of the statewide electorate.

So, if things hold, the fall match-up pits two “businessmen,” who will both posit their respective experience in “business” qualifies them to be chief executive in these tough economic times; after all, a majority of those polled rank the economy as the most important issue facing the state.

Phil Likes Mike

Our current governor, Phil Bredesen, who also came to the office promising to put his experience to work, has endorsed fellow Democrat McWherter, noting that because he’s a “businessman,” he understands what it takes to create jobs.

Okay, Phil, your background was in healthcare – is that fixed here in Tennessee? Or are the problems of the global economy too much for one “businessman” to wrangle during a downturn like we’ve been having?

And besides, McWherter didn’t create the business he operates. I’m usually not impressed by a child who takes over an operation started by parents or grandparents unless it goes through some incredible growth because of the child’s efforts (see Ted Turner). Same issue with Haslam. His father created Pilot Oil, and it’s still a family-run business (as opposed to a Bill-run business).

While I have voted for people who operate businesses before, I really don’t think that running any part of a government lends itself to accepted management practices. Hiring, firing, meeting payrolls, putting new practices in place – all things that go through endless committees – councils, commissions, legislatures, Congress. And that doesn’t even look at constituents, lobbyists and all the stuff that office holders deal with.

I’m pretty sure that selling gas or beer doesn’t necessarily make someone the best leader in troubled times.

On the fence?

And as long as we’re talking about the candidates – what’s the fascination with illegal immigration? I don’t think the concern is losing jobs to illegals – it’s having enough jobs in the first place! I also don’t know why it’s so important for gubernatorial candidates to make the point so strongly that they’ll “say ‘no’ to Obama.” If he’s the guy with his hand on the federal aid spigot, they might want to think (at least think) about saying ‘yes’ sometime.

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About Doug Johnson

I spent 25 years in the news business, working in print, radio and television. After a steady rise to the middle, I made the leap to the private sector, which chewed and then tried spitting me out after 2 years. I zigged (instead of zagging) into a position in television production.
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