Haslam campaigns where it counts — Arkansas and Kansas

Excerpt from an election eve overview story in News Sentinel:
Gov. Bill Haslam devoted one of his last days of 2014 campaigning to promoting Republican candidates in Arkansas and Kansas rather than Tennessee, another indication that the GOP is not too worried about the outcome in most of Tuesday’s partisan elections in his home state.

Haslam on Friday traveled with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governors Association, to Kansas for backing the re-election of Gov. Sam Brownback and to Arkansas in support of Republican gubernatorial nominee Asa Hutchinson. Brownback is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Paul Davis, while Hutchinson is in a close contest with Democrat Mike Ross.

“At the request of the RGA chairman, Gov. Haslam went to the states closest to Tennessee where he thought he could have the most impact helping his colleagues,” said Haslam campaign spokesman Jeremy Harrell in an email.

Haslam has said he is not taking his re-election for granted and Harrell pointed out the governor has had a number of campaign events in the state. Today, Haslam is making a final pre-Election Day tour of the state, starting with a breakfast in Knoxville and ending with an afternoon event in Memphis.

Haslam’s spending on re-election campaigning has been somewhat serious, though less than half what he spent in 2010. So far this campaign, Haslam has spent $4.25 million, according to filed reports ending Oct. 25. He still had about $1.6 million cash on hand in his campaign account at that point.

Democratic nominee Charles “Charlie” Brown, a retired Morgan County construction worker, has spent $53 and reported a $50 balance.

Polls have shown Haslam a heavy favorite, even though his popularity is down somewhat from earlier levels. A Middle Tennessee State University poll released last week had Haslam at 50 percent and Brown at 19 percent. About 10 percent of respondents said they would vote for another candidate and the rest undecided or refused to answer the question.

Note: An excerpt from Politico’s story on the Kansas event:
“Gov. Brownback told me that if I came back just one more time, he would help me buy a farm in Kansas,” joked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, reminding assembled reporters and a partisan crowd that he’s been to the mostly-rural state three times in the last three weeks.

…Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam — who’s up for reelection in the Volunteer State but cruising to victory against a little-known Democrat — was there, riffing on the thought of the New Jerseyan Christie on a farm.

“I’m gonna come back to see Chris in overalls riding that tractor. It is gonna be a great day,” he said to laughs. “We’re gonna have a crowd here for that.”

The event was largely a well-orchestrated pep rally for Kansas Republicans up and down the entire ticket, with downballot nominees like Secretary of State Kris Kobach also on hand. The group stepped off a state GOP-funded bus, adorned with images of the candidates, with “Born Free” blaring and a makeshift sea of lawn signs — set up moments earlier by campaign aides — surrounding the press conference.