Excerpts from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s commentary (and some others) in a epic political profile piece by Sam Stockard:
“I’m riding down the road in a pickup truck, chewing tobacco with my baseball cap on, getting ready to unload a hay tedder. I’ve not changed the slightest bit,” says Ramsey, his voice rising to make a point in an interview from rural Blountville in Upper East Tennessee.
“I’ve become a little more powerful since I’ve become lieutenant governor. I guess they resent that. But, again, you’re always going to have your detractors in politics.
“So what else are they going to say? He’s a great guy? No. It just doesn’t work that way.”
…“But I’m gonna tell you, I could not have a better relationship with anybody in the world than I do with Bill Haslam.”
Ramsey contends the key is working out legislation before it reaches the point of veto. Gov. Bill Haslam says he and Ramsey “truly are good friends” and agree on issues “the vast majority of the time.”
“And when we’re not, we have the kind of relationship where at the first of this session, he [Ramsey] says, ‘Hey, here’s where I am on some things. It’s not where you are.’ We talked about it. That’s the kind of relationship you want where people are up front with you about where they are and why they’re there,” Haslam says.
Democratic state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley, who served with Ramsey in the House during their early years, says he has a good relationship with the lieutenant governor despite their political differences.
Whereas the late Senate Speaker Wilder was known to “let the Senate be the Senate,” Ramsey “has his ship under control,” Fitshugh says.
“Certainly, he has more power in the General Assembly than this governor does,” Fitzhugh adds. “He has a more outward, powerful personality.”
…In a speech this session to a Republican group, Ramsey called himself a “right-wing conservative” but says that was a “tongue-in-cheek comment” made because people “aggravate” him about the characterization.
“But am I very pro-Second Amendment? Am I very anti-abortion? Am I for low taxes and less government and all that? Yes.
“At the same time, I think anybody who knows me would say I’m pretty pragmatic and I try to figure out what the solutions are, too,” Ramsey adds.
“I don’t know how you define a right-wing Republican, but on a scale of 1 to 10, I’m about an 8.5.”
…“He’s just forgotten where he came from. It’s just party, party, party. If you’re not a Republican, you’re nothing. He forgot about the people,” says John McKamey, a Democrat who ran against Ramsey for state Senate in 2004 and sought the party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2014.
…Ramsey, however, says he doesn’t require Senate committee chair holders to contribute to RAAMPAC. The Republican Caucus needed the money three years ago because the Legislature had six open seats and he asked every member to help raise money for elections.
Those chair holders who do contribute to his PAC do it “purely out of choice,” Ramsey says, “because they understand if it wasn’t for RAAMPAC we may have a majority but we would not have the numbers we have in the state Senate.
“There’s no doubt about that, and they understand that. They understand the only way they can stay chairman is make sure we keep our majority. So, yes, they believe in me. They believe in the cause and give, but there’s no requirement whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t tell you who has and who hasn’t.”