Catching up on reading what others have written about the gubernatorial campaign (while yours truly has been mostly lost in Legislatorland), it’s striking that the focus has been on Zach Wamp. Here’s a rundown of recent stuff, in case you’re catching up, too.
On Washington Wamp
Chas Sisk has a lengthy story centered on Wamp’s obvious dilemma of being a congressman, albeit a very conservative one, at a time when the GOP’s conservative base hates Washington. (He’s doesn’t identify himself as a congressman in advertising.)
While political scientists and the Tennessee Conservative Union’s president are duly quoted on the situation, the most interesting comments come from Wamp himself. A sampler from a recommended read for Tennessee political junkies:
“No one has a positive attitude towards Washington, and I know why,” Wamp said. “The Congress is dysfunctional. It’s basically broken under this new regime.
“But to attack me is no different than attacking Bob Corker, Jimmy Duncan, Marsha Blackburn, other members of our delegation that have served consistently, with distinction.”
And this on explaining his vote for TARP funding:
“We were at the precipice of huge collapse as a nation, and I hated casting that vote worse than anybody in America,” Wamp said. “It made me sick to be in that position. … But I think there was a threat of a complete vote of no confidence globally in our nation’s economy.
And, further, on supporting Tennessee-specific earmarks:
“I think the (Tennessee congressional) delegation needs to work hard for special treatment, not just equal treatment,” he said. “The federal government exists to do things that states and local governments, frankly, just can’t do.”
On ‘Sissy Wannabes’
Jeff Woods watched the video tape of last weekend’s gubernatorial debate at the Tennessee Tea Party Coalition’s convention in Gatlinburg, and (with sarcastic commentary), focused on Wamp’s advice to attendees:
“Don’t elect some sissy wannabe as your governor.”
The comment is within this bloc quote on Wamp having a gun at his head:
“I sleep with a gun next to my head and I’m not going to tell you what it is or frankly who it’s titled to. To me it’s like a right that we have and I’m a no exceptions, no excuses kind of guy. I think governors, as this separation takes place in our country between good places and bad places and as long as this nanny state federal government is going in that direction, this is one of those things we may have to meet them at the state line about. And I”m just telling you Tennesseans because there are some tough times coming. Don’t elect some sissy wannabe as your governor. It’s time for tough people standing up to protect what we have left in this country. We’re going to need those kind of tough people. This is one of those issues we’re going to have to buck up on.”
Another Tea Party Note
Greg Johnson attended the Tea Party debate and notes the Wamp “sissy wannabe” remark, but comes up with a non-sarcastic summary:
Nobody stumbled. Nobody fell. The jousting and jostling continue.
The Geographic Dynamic, Etc.
Frank Cagle, opines in his weekly column, that Wamp could win the GOP nomination – subject to some perhaps not-so-likely ‘ifs.” His bottom line:
If Ramsey fades or drops out, if Haslam doesn’t go after Wamp hard, if conservative groups align with Wamp, then Zach Wamp is the Republican nominee for governor.
Sample Cagle commentary before he gets to that conclusion:
East Tennessee most people think Congressman Zach Wamp and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam are running about even. Wamp seems to have Chattanooga nailed down, as you would expect. But Wamp also has come claim to part of Haslam’s base, having represented Oak Ridge and several counties to the north of Knoxville. So Wamp can argue he comes out of East Tennessee with a slight lead.
Ramsey, Cagle suggests, is doing well in his home base (the Tri-Cities), and around Nashville, where conservatives are tuned into his state budget doings as a legislator.
Supporters of Wamp and Haslam think Ramsey has been unable to close in West Tennessee as a result.
Both camps (Haslam and Wamp) believe the race may come down to Shelby County, a vote-rich Republican area choosing among three candidates from East Tennessee. Wamp and Haslam are going at it head-up in Shelby and rural West Tennessee.
… Haslam has the money for saturation advertising in the expensive Memphis media market. But Shelby County is the home of more “movement” conservatives that any other area of Tennessee, and Wamp has more of an appeal with those voters.
…It appears that Haslam has more money for ads, but Wamp is getting more bang for his buck. Wamp’s ads are just better. The question for the last two months of the primary campaign is whether Haslam will go negative on Wamp.
I have never known Bill Haslam to “go negative” in a political campaign or in advocating an issue. But the stakes are high in this election and he may not have a choice. He is certainly surrounded by people who have no problem playing hard ball.
And There’s Also Joe Kirkpatrick
Chattanooga Times-Free Press Editor Tom Giiscom, a panelist at last week’s gubernatorial forum in Memphis, offers some observations on the event in a Sunday column.
He devotes some attention than most to Joe Kirkpatrick, the fourth candidate in the race who is widely ignored in most media reporting (focused, of course, on those guys named Haslam, Ramsey and Wamp.
Mr. Kirkpatrick may have done more to assist in the sorting out process than he realized when he stepped onto the stage as a fourth candidate in what is considered more of a three-person field.
Kirkpatrick sweated profusely, reminiscent of the Richard Nixon in the famous 1960 debate with John F. Kennedy, and at one point “started fanning himself with the set of papers, apparently without the knowledge of those in the viewing audience.”
A “stay-at-home father with a wife he describes as ‘the speaker in my house’,” Kirkpatrick .” also “claims to have changed more diapers than anyone else in the Republican field. He is the father of a 16-year-old and younger triplets.”