McWherter ready to add campaign cash
Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:08 pm
NASHVILLE (AP) — Democrat Mike McWherter, an Obion County native, is prepared to pour more of his own money into his gubernatorial campaign, he said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday.
McWherter, who has lagged behind Republican opponent Bill Haslam in fundraising and in the polls, said he wants to ensure that he gets television ads on the air as early voting gets under way.
“I’m committed to putting in whatever funds are necessary to be sure we can get our message out,” said McWherter. He didn’t say how much he was willing to spend.
McWherter, the son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, gave his bid $1 million this spring, but managed to raise only $1.6 million from outside sources through the most recent fund-raising reports before the Aug. 5 primary.
Haslam, by contrast, raised $9.4 million through the period, and gave his campaign at least $1.5 million more.
Spokesman David Smith said Haslam doesn’t rule out making future cash infusions into his own campaign.
“As he has said all along, Bill Haslam is prepared to set the record straight should he feel the need to do so,” Smith said in an e-mail.
McWherter acknowledged that he is trailing Haslam in the race but said he takes heart in the experience of his father’s 1986 gubernatorial bid.
“I don’t think there’s any question that I’m the underdog at this state in the game,” he said. “When my father ran, he was perceived to be the underdog all the way through the race. And he wound up winning pretty handily.
“I think I’m right about where I need to be, frankly, in this race.”
While Haslam’s television ads have been in heavy rotation through most of the year, McWherter was only on the air briefly surrounding the primary.
The two-week early voting period starts Oct. 13, when election officials expect about half of the ballots to be cast, and McWherter says he has time to reach voters before they make up their minds.
“Normal voters out there really don’t start to focus on these races until they know they’re going in and casting their ballot,” he said.
McWherter predicted he’ll make a strong showing in northeastern Tennessee, a traditional Republican stronghold. McWherter said he still has strong contacts he made in the region when he campaigned there for his father’s gubernatorial bid.
He also said that he has substantial support in Davidson and Shelby County, despite some conservative stances he has taken on issues like guns and the death penalty.
But McWherter managed to curb expectations when it comes to his opponent’s home county.
“I will concede that I may very well lose Knox County,” he said with a smile.
Published in The Messenger 9.28.10