Text of Haslam’s Tuesday night victory statement, as distributed by his campaign:
“When you go through a campaign I think it’s hardest with those who love you – my family and some of my extended family are here behind us. They endure all the debates and negative ads. Sometimes I think the slings and arrows hurt them more than they hurt the candidate. Hopefully everybody’s ok. But I’m so grateful for them.
“There’s someone else I want to thank right off the bat. Here is what nobody understood about this race and what they missed. They didn’t understand the incredible volunteer base we had all across the state helping us. The people who knocked on doors. Do you know last week our volunteers called 250,000 people just in the last week?
More people have given to this campaign than have ever given to any other campaign in the state of Tennessee. I am so grateful. One last group I want to thank: we have an incredible staff. Everywhere I go all across the state I had a really great staff. It’s true, and I’m so grateful they worked so hard to make me look good. I ask one more thing of the staff: tomorrow morning when you wake up wondering what you do now after all this work, please don’t figure out how many hours you worked for what you made. The math won’t work I promise you, but please know I’m incredibly grateful. I see a lot of their faces in here that went on this journey with us.
“But the campaign is now over. Mike McWherter was gracious enough to call me. We had a great conversation about the state moving forward, and I’m excited to do just that. It’s been a long hard campaign, but it’s been good. I said often times I wish someone had just tapped me and said “you’re it”, but I’m going to be a better governor because of the primary and the general election campaigns we have been through. I promise you this: whether you voted for us or not I will work hard for all Tennesseans – that’s why I ran for governor and I promise you that.
“I’m looking forward to working with Governor Bredesen. We’re starting as early as tomorrow. He’s been incredible to work with both campaigns throughout this initiative. We will start tomorrow and make certain we don’t drop one thing as we make certain that Tennessee moves forward.
“But in the excitement of tonight let’s not forget that we face some pretty sobering challenges. All across the state what people want to talk about is jobs, and we need to go to work on that. We have a budget that will have a $1.5 billion less in revenue to work with next year than we have this year. An education none of us are satisfied with being closer to the bottom than we are to the top.
“But I’ll be honest with you: I’ve never been more optimistic and more enthusiastic about what we can do in the state of Tennessee.
“What I’ve done in the last two years has been an incredible privilege. I know we can be the best location in the southeast for high quality jobs, an incredible momentum around education reform that I’m convinced we can continue. And the budget challenges? They’re like the challenges in your own family. Sometimes those hard choices force you to be more effective and more efficient and keeping the same amount of helpfulness that we desire.
“So, here’s where we are: after a long two years I am here to tell you how much I appreciate this. But I can’t leave tonight without thanking my hometown. You learn something in a campaign: most Tennesseans are proud of their hometown and that’s a good thing. And I am really proud of my hometown. The chance to be mayor of Knoxville for the last seven years has been an incredible honor and the way that this community supported me in early voting — nobody can ask for more support. I will be moving on to be governor of all Tennesseans, but just know this: Knoxville will always be my home and I will always be grateful.
“I want to thank the voters of Tennessee. This is an incredible honor and responsibility. I understand that as well. I want to end with something Lamar Alexander – who is now one of our senators, but was a governor before – told me on Thursday of last week. He said, “Bill, being governor in your home state is one of the greatest honors and privileges anyone can have. And if that home state just happens to be Tennessee, well it doesn’t get any better than that.”