Haslam vows consistency in Tennessee governor’s race
Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 8:01 pm
NASHVILLE (AP) — State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey is suggesting that Bill Haslam may be vulnerable in the Thursday’s Republican gubernatorial primary because he has not specifically targeted GOP voters.
Ramsey, who had campaign events scheduled at two East Tennessee firing ranges for today, said his bid has focused on gun owners and other key Republican constituencies, while Haslam has run more of a general election-style campaign.
Haslam maintains that there’s no reason to tailor his messaging solely to the primary voters.
“I’m a strong Republican conservative, I won’t apologize for that,” he said. “But if we win the primary, we’ll run the same race in the general.”
A third Republican candidate, U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp of Chattanooga, has in recent days ramped up religious themes in his speeches and television ads.
“The word of God, and I mean our Judeo-Christian heritage … is the best foundation for your individual life, your family life, your local governments life, your state policy and your federal policy,” Wamp said at a weekend campaign stop in Crossville.
Wamp has also trumpeted claims that Haslam would welcome the introduction of a state income tax in Tennessee, a suggestion that Haslam vehemently denies.
Ramsey was instrumental in creating a statewide handgun carry permitting process and is counting on a large number of the state’s nearly 300,000 permit holders to support his bid.
“We’ve been targeting those Republican primary voters that think like I do: pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-business,” he said. “And that’s what I’ve been doing from the very beginning of this campaign.”
Haslam, the dominant fundraiser in the campaign, said he’s become accustomed to attacks from Wamp and Ramsey.
He told supporters in Nashville on Monday night that it goes with the territory of being the front-runner.
“Because we’re ahead, people are taking lots of shots at us,” he said. “I guess we should be flattered by that.”
Haslam said he can’t differentiate between the primary and the general elections.
“We’re running a campaign to win the governor’s race, and that includes winning the Republican primary,” he said.
Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen can’t run for re-election because of term limits. Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, is the lone Democrat in the race.
Published in The Messenger 8.4.10