Andrea Zelinski has a rambling review of Gov. Bill Haslam’s gubernatorial performance, starting with the proposition that he’ has the “Teflon-like qualities” of Bill Clinton and proceeding through quoted commentary from folks including a Democratic operative (it’s not Teflon, it’s an “oil slick”), Zach Wamp, Tom Ingram and Haslam himself.
Excerpts: Haslam’s colleagues say he researches almost every decision he has to make and seeks out opinions from people in those fields before coming to a conclusion. But other times, those strategies open him up to criticism for being indecisive, lacking backbone or for testing the political waters before making a call.
“I’m sure a lot of people go, ‘Just make up your mind, buddy.’ Or, ‘You’re trying to wait to see where the wind blows,’ etc.,” Haslam told The City Paper.
“I don’t take this job lightly, in the sense I realize it does come with a lot of weight. Sometimes I have the very final say, but oftentimes I can carry a very influential point, and I want to make certain that I’ve thought through that well before we decide where we’re going to push,” he said.
Haslam often takes so much time to decide issues that the controversy has died down and a different issue is front and center, said Ben Cunningham, a spokesman for Tennessee Tax Revolt and an activist with the Nashville Tea Party. While members of his faction are happy with the governor cutting taxes like those on groceries, inheritances and investments, Cunningham said he would like to see the governor be more decisive on issues like opposing Medicaid expansion.
“It’s pretty difficult to really tie him down, because he doesn’t anchor himself down,” Cunningham said. “He does not really inspire great feelings one way or the other, because he doesn’t express great feelings one way or the other.”
…”I would caution anybody who tries to mix issues of the allegations against Pilot right now and the governor. That is a colossal stretch for anyone to try,” said Tom Ingram, a private political consultant for the governor, and also for Jimmy Haslam as he navigates the company through the FBI investigation.
“It energizes people who are looking for something to talk about,” he said. “I think the relevant point a challenger should look at is the governor’s popularity, is the governor’s record, and this governor’s ability, and issues as they specifically relate to this governor. That’s a pretty formidable set of assets going into a campaign.”
…While the question of whether there is more than a tangential tie between the governor and the alleged wrongdoing at Pilot is still unanswered, the investigation is restarting debate about the governor’s refusal to reveal details about how much he has invested in his family’s company.
“I don’t think that Gov. Haslam has anything to do with, personally, the Pilot Oil problems,” said Wamp, who said he has no plans to run for the governor’s office again. “But at the same time, I think people want to know what their executive leaders are involved in financially.”
Haslam’s decision to withhold his income tax returns during his campaign, despite fervent calls from his opponents to show exactly how much he earns from Pilot, didn’t hurt his ability to take the governor’s seat. But Wamp said transparency is still an issue the public needs to think about. The Democratic Party is also beginning to call for the governor to reveal his Pilot-related income.
“In politics, you can overcome a lot of liabilities if you do a good job and if you’re straight with the people,” said Wamp. “I think we’d all like to see more transparency, but I think Gov. Haslam is a very honorable man who is serving our state well.”
News release from TBI:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, along with several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, executed multiple state search warrants today in Rutherford County as part of “Operation Synful Smoke” to begin enforcing new Tennessee laws surrounding the sale of synthetic drugs at area convenience stores and markets.
The 16th Judicial District Attorney General’s office requested the TBI launch the investigation in conjunction with the Law Enforcement and Special Prosecutions Division of the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office. Between June and August 2011, TBI Special Agents made approximately 150 undercover visits to more than 60 convenience stores in Rutherford County and purchased illegal drugs both over the counter and behind the counter which resulted in obtaining today’s search warrants. The drugs purchased were synthetic cannabinoids known by several names including “Herbal Incense” or “Potpourri” and synthetic methcathinone known as “Bath Salts” or “Plant Food.” The Public Chapter regarding synthetic cannabinoids, PC 274, went into effect July 1, 2011 and synthetic methcathinone, PC 169, on May 5, 2011.
Synthetic canabinoids are dried plant materials treated with chemicals sold under various brand names such as 7H, K2, Diablo, Exotica or Spice. Abusers smoke the product to experience effects similar to those induced by marijuana. Synthethic methcathinone is a central nervous stimulant similar to a Schedule I Controlled Substance sold in powder, liquid and crystal forms as plant food, insect repellant, pond cleaner and vacuum freshener. Abusers typically ingest, inhale, inject or smoke the product to experience an effect similar to amphetamines. The synthetic drugs can cause severe physical and psychological reactions and even death.
TBI Director Mark Gwyn said, “The warning labels that read ‘Not for Human Consumption’ are simply a ploy to try and get around the law. That will not work in Tennessee. As is evident with today’s search warrants, if business owners sell the drugs, law enforcement will seize the drugs.”
After the new laws went into effect, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper warned legitimate businesses to pull the products from their shelves. “The Attorney General’s office is pleased to be part of the effort to get these dangerous substances off store shelves. The Law Enforcement Division is working closely with local law enforcement, the District Attorney and the TBI in a coordinated effort to identify the illegal substances and halt their sale,” Attorney General Cooper said.
The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, US Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Nashville Police Department, Murfreesboro Police Department, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Smyrna Police Department and LaVergne Police Department were involved in the investigation and/or execution of today’s search warrants.
No arrests have been made as the investigation is still ongoing. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, TBI will turn the case and its evidence over to the 16th Judicial District Attorney General’s office for prosecution.
Weston Wamp, son of former Republican congressman and gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp, is exploring a run for his father’s former seat in the U.S. Congress, according to multiple NashvillePost.com sources. (Link HERE, subscription required.) The seat, Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, is currently held by freshman Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. Zach Wamp represented the district from 1995 until early this year.
According to several sources, the ex-congressman has been calling his former campaign donors asking for financial support should a bid materialize and has taken Weston Wamp to Washington, D.C., in the hopes of signing on a big-name political consultant.
So far, though, none of the consultants approached have expressed interest in getting involved in what could cause a messy intra-party squabble. After leaving the U.S. Congress, Wamp has opened up a general consulting firm that “specializes in energy, defense/security, transportation and workforce development/technology transfer,” according to his website.
Former Congressman Zach Wamp says his consulting business, Zach Wamp and Associates, will not have a “strategic affiliation” in Washington as initially announced. Georgiana Vines reports on that and several other comments in a speech at UT’s Howard Baker Center that Wamp described as “a stream of consciousness.” He told Friday’s crowd that he had decided to “take a pass” on the Washington affiliation after several days of conversation with the principals. He decided a former congressman is best not seen in Washington, he said.
He will have offices in Chattanooga, his hometown, and Oak Ridge, which was in his district.
He announced at the luncheon that Knoxville Vice Mayor Joe Bailey will be a senior associate in his consulting firm. Bailey, who attended the luncheon, said he will continue his own consulting business as well.
Also, Wamp said “creative solutions involving the private sector will be required for the federal government to continue to support science and technology in places like Oak Ridge during tough economic times.
He sees more and more private-public partnerships, with private capital investing in the financing of buildings for government work and the government having long-term lease contracts in a sell-back process.
…In introducing Wamp, Carl Pierce, the Baker Center’s executive director, announced that Wamp is donating his congressional papers to the center and to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Pierce said the documents are the first paperless contribution made to the center. Those wanting to access them will be able to do so electronically at either location, he said.
…In his “new season in life,” Wamp said he doesn’t have a staff of 18 to supply him with answers to questions or provide information.
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) — Former Republican U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp is starting a consulting firm and his clients will include national companies with federal contracts and operations at Oak Ridge, in the district he represented.
Wamp told The Oak Ridger newspaper that his business, Zach Wamp Consulting, will have a “strategic affiliation” with a Washington, D.C., firm and will also have offices in Oak Ridge and Chattanooga.
Wamp declined to provide other details.
He said the company will focus on the energy, defense and transportation industries.
Wamp received an award Tuesday at an Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
The former congressman did not seek re-election last year and made an unsuccessful run for governor.
Wamp previously said he is talking to TV executives about possibly moderating a new national political show.
After an hour-long conversation over lunch in Oak Ridge with Bill Haslam, Congressman Zach Wamp says he and the man who beat him for the Republican gubernatorial nomination are now “100 percent reconciled,” according to stories by Andy Sher and Mike Morrow.
Action Andy goes on to report, however, that not every supporter of Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, another primary loser who has declared his support for the Knoxville mayor, has been won over to the Haslam cause. When one supporter suggested a Wamp write-in effort in the Nov. 2 general election, backer Annette Sapp quickly jumped in with continued support of the congressman who put his religious views front and center in the campaign.
“God led me to Zach and has not led me in a different direction,” she wrote. “We need to organize a write in.”
But Corky Coker, a conservative Chattanooga businessman and longtime supporter and friend of Wamp, says he’s one of those who is moving on.
Though Wamp’s loss “kind of broke my heart,” Coker said he is helping Haslam with a local fundraiser in coming weeks.
Some leaders in Tennessee’s tea party movement haven’t come around, either. They said he avoided strong talk in the primary about states’ rights and Arizona’s anti-immigration legislation.
Haslam also came under fire by conservatives for raising property taxes in his first year as Knoxville’s mayor and for his membership in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He quit the group during the campaign, contending it went in a direction that he was not comfortable with.
Many tea party activists went all out for Ramsey, including Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, a Nashville attorney.
Phillips said he thinks Haslam “just doesn’t care about the tea party vote.”
“I think in their equation, they’re just [saying] ‘Well, the tea party movement went all out for Ramsey. I crushed Ron Ramsey, therefore, the heck with these people. I don’t need them,'” Phillips said.
Last month, tea party activist Mark Skoda, of Memphis, said that when he and others had met with Haslam, the candidate was “unequivocal” about Second Amendment rights, opposition to an income tax and “the need to reject the expansion of the federal government.”
“I believed him and will work to hold him accountable to his representations,” Skoda said. “In that context, I will also support him during November and will ask my members to do the same.”
Both Haslam and McWherter have reached out to gun groups.
John Harris of the Tennessee Firearms Association said the group, which backed Ramsey in the primary, has invited both candidates to speak. He’s not sure the association will make an endorsement.
“I think people are looking at these two candidates as not that far apart on gun issues,” Harris said.
Press release from Rep. Zach Wamp’s Congressional Office:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Americans noticed when the Congress strayed from the fundamental principles of the Constitution, and many banded together in a grassroots movement that started springing up all across the country. The Tea Party groups asked lawmakers to listen to their concerns. Rep. Zach Wamp joined the Tea Party Caucus, which was recently founded by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota to serve as a means for everyday Americans to express their views to Members of Congress.
“I’m grateful for Zach Wamp’s support of the Tea Party Caucus, and am delighted to welcome his years of leadership to the organization,” said Congresswoman Bachmann. “The Tea Party Caucus was formed to listen to the American people and promote the fundamental principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a strict adherence to the Constitution. As a member of the Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Wamp will be able to further enhance his longstanding commitment to these principles, continue to listen to the voice the American people and defend our founding documents.”
Rep. Wamp said, “The Tea Party will help bring our national leadership back to the Constitution and return grassroots enthusiasm to Congress by hearing directly from the hard-working Americans who are concerned about the future of our great country. Like the foundation of the Tea Party movement, I have always opposed tax increases, voted for the most conservative budgets in Congress and led the fight for limited constitutional government.”
The Tea Party Caucus was founded to bring Members’ attention to the cries of everyday Americans who are calling for fiscal responsibility, adherence to the Constitution and limited government. It encourages Americans to share their concerns and frustrations with the direction our country is heading. While the Caucus does not speak for the Tea Party, it provides an opportunity to interact and exchange ideas.
Wamp Campaign news release:
NASHVILLE – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for Governor, today unveiled two new television commercials in his campaign for governor designed to speak directly to voters in the closing days of the Republican primary.
One ad sets the record straight about Bill Haslam’s multi-million dollar barrage of TV and radio attack ads and negative direct mail pieces that seek to mislead voters about Wamp’s conservative voting record and outstanding public service.
The second ad cuts through all campaign clutter and features Wamp speaking directly to voters from his heart. You may view these ads online via the campaign’s You Tube channel by clicking here:
Both ads are now running on broadcast television in all of the state’s media markets.
Scripts of the two new television ads follow: Zach Wamp :30 TV ad – “SMOKESCREEN” Rusty:“This Bill Haslam ticks me off. He’s spending his millions attacking a good man, Zach Wamp.
What a smokescreen. Haslam doesn’t want you to know that the first thing he did as Mayor was raise property taxes.
Zach Wamp’s got my vote because he’s never raised taxes.” Zach Wamp: “I’m Zach Wamp. We don’t need higher taxes. As Governor, I’ll cut spending, create more jobs and guarantee no state income tax.
That’s why I need your vote.” Zach Wamp :30 TV ad – “HERE’S MY HEART” Zach Wamp: “I’m Zach Wamp. The other candidates for Governor are spending millions attacking me. But the truth is I have a solid conservative record and the right experience to be our 49th governor.
And here’s my heart. I believe God is the center of the universe. He made us to serve him and to serve others. We must restore America to its Judeo-Christian heritage and our constitution.
This can start here in Tennessee. So I want to be your Governor.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp’s second quarter financial disclosure shows he collected $838,974 during the period, spent $1,699,650 – most on TV ads and production costs — and had a balance of $1,291,941 in his campaign account as of July 1.
The contribution level surpassed his first quarter collections, which amounted to $510,259. He had previously announced that his collections total for the campaign since launched had reached about $4 million. The actual total for the campaign to date is $3,920,451.
(Note: This is part of a series of campaign trail profiles of Tennessee candidates for governor.)
DUNLAP, Tenn. – Bob and Ruth Fleming watched placidly from lawn chairs as the politicians passed by in the Dunlap Independence Day parade – until a red, white and blue bus appeared.
Then they rose, stepped to the front of the crowd with three youngsters in tow and began waving their hands back and forth and shouting.
U.S. Rep. Zachary Paul Wamp, who sometimes calls himself “a heat-seeking missile,” had been marching behind the bus with his wife, Kim. They smiled, waved and occasionally yelled, “Happy Fourth of July!”
The congressman often zipped off to the side to target someone in the crowd for a handshake or vote solicitation.
A band of following supporters wearing “I Back Zach” T-shirts – including son Weston Wamp, 24, and daughter Coty Wamp, 18 – tossed peppermint candy to onlookers, targeting the smallest youngsters.
The Wamps spotted the Flemings. A two-family group hug ensued as the bus paused.
“We got to know him and we got to love him,” Ruth Fleming said of the congressman who wants to be governor after the bus moved on in the slow-motion parade.
Gray-bearded Bob Fleming explained that Wamp – whom he and his wife met prior to moving from Hamilton County to Sequatchie County more than a decade ago – has impressed them in ways ranging from fair-minded mediation in a local development dispute to speaking at the high school graduation of one child and providing a flag for the school of another.
He’s heard the “Fleming Family” perform as a part-time bluegrass band. And he talks conservative Christian values they believe in, Bob and Ruth say.
Such are the folks converted to the cause of a congressman who is running against Washington, who once abused drugs and alcohol but now soberly quotes Scripture and calls for “a religious revival in America.”
Wamp has voluntarily made public his net worth – $830,000, mostly from the value of his Chattanooga home – but declines to say what kind of guns he owns because “that’s nobody’s business.”
Wamp grew up as a Democrat, politically, and a Lutheran, religiously.
He credits Ronald Reagan for converting his politics to Republican; his wife and the Lord for changing his church affiliation to Southern Baptist.