Tom Ingram on differences between ‘very strategic’ Lamar Alexander and ‘head-on’ Bill Haslam

Tom Ingram, who as political consultant to Lamar Alexander and Bill Haslam is dedicated to making both men look good, did an interview with the Nashville Business Journal. Excerpts:

So how does Haslam approach the job differently than Alexander and others before him?

“If Lamar saw a roadblock out there he would step back and be very strategic about approaching the roadblock,” Ingram said. “When Bill sees a roadblock, he just takes it head on and works his way through it until it falls.”

Ingram added that Haslam has a “more hands-on approach” than Alexander.

“Bill stays very engaged with all his people. He can juggle lots of different balls at a time, and will juggle lots of different balls at a time,” Ingram said. “He may have two or three things that are his priorities, but he’s probably involved in six or eight other things at the same time.”

Meanwhile, Ingram said, Alexander was, and continues to be, more inclined to focus on two or three main issues or topics.

…“You may have a super-majority of Republicans in the Legislature, but you then have battles among the Republicans.”

“Bill has to go to his own party, and the difference within his own party are sometimes even greater than the differences between Republicans and Democrats” when Alexander was governor, Ingram added.

The issue has come up with some of the governor’s top priorities, particularly Common Core implementation this past session (the House at one point voted to delay the roll out of the education standards for two years).

“If you go back to Lamar, a Republican governor working with a Democrat Legislature, trying to pass the Master Teacher Better Schools Package was similar in scale to what Common Core is now,” Ingram said. “It was tough then, and it’s tough now.”

Ingram said that reaching compromises today are harder to come by, particularly because of lawmakers “digging in on ideological tenets.”