Tag Archives: Ned McWherter

A video tribute to the late Gov. Ned McWherter

It’s pointed out, in a message received today, that this video tribute to the late Gov. Ned McWherter — it’s about 18 minutes long — includes an (understandably edited) brief comment from yours truly. Sadly, it includes commentary from folks since deceased — notably House Speaker Pro Tempore Lois DeBerry. And it’s never been posted on this blog. Well, about four years late, it is now.

Mathews eulogized as a ‘happy warrior’ who believed in fair play

From The Tennessean story on Harlan Mathews’ funeral:
Some of the state’s most influential people of the past 40 years gathered Monday to remember Harlan Mathews, the late deputy governor and U.S. senator, as a man from a different, saner, more civil era in politics.

Mathews, a Democrat who died Friday at 87 of a brain tumor, liked people and “loved the game,” longtime friend Aubrey Harwell said during his eulogy at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home.

“He was one of the last of the happy warriors,” Harwell said as Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, the state’s two Republican senators, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper sat in a row nearby. “He never took himself too seriously. He took the process seriously. He reveled in victory for his side, but not for personal power. He suffered in defeat, though they were rare, but he was never bitter. He respected the rights of adversaries to disagree. He expected opponents to oppose, but he believed it was possible to disagree without being disagreeable.”

“He hated no one. He set out to get even with no one.”

Mathews was the late Gov. Ned McWherter’s deputy from 1987 until McWherter appointed him to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat in 1993. Billy Stair, senior policy adviser in the McWherter administration, said Mathews leaves a legacy in the many men and women he hired and mentored, including Nancy-Ann DeParle, a former White House deputy chief of staff, and also two state treasurers, a former University of Tennessee president and two chancellors of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Stair quoted Estie Harris, Mathews’ Senate chief of staff, who said he had “two basic rules: Hire smart people and get out of the way.”

…David Gregory, who was McWherter’s last chief of staff, said Mathews believed in putting women such as Harris in leadership roles. The funeral program mentioned “Harlan’s Girls,” a group of four female colleagues he remained close to until his death.

Mathews also shied away from taking credit for accomplishments and made sure to spread it around.

“It’s amazing what can get accomplished when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit,” Gregory quoted him saying frequently.

But he wasn’t soft. Harwell, an attorney, said Mathews was a frugal manager and tough negotiator who simply believed in fair play in all of his dealings.
“He brought no hidden agenda,” Harwell said. “He knew what he was, and he didn’t need consultants to show him how he should change.”

Harlan Mathews — former U.S. Senator, state treasurer, deputy governor — dies at age 87

Former U.S. Sen. Harlan Mathews, who also served as Tennessee’s state treasurer, deputy to Gov. Ned McWherter and mentor to many Democratic political figures for decades, died Friday at age 87.

Mathews, recently diagnosed with brain cancer, died at Alive Hospice in Nashville with his wife, Patsy, at his side, according to an email distributed to media by family friends.

Mathews began a long career in the public service arena in 1950 during the administration of Gov. Gordon Browning. He continued to serve during the administrations of Govs. Frank Clement and Buford Ellington, including a long stint as state finance commissioner.

Mathews subsequently served as an assistant to longtime state Comptroller Bill Snodgrass, then was elected state treasurer in 1974, holding that position until 1987, when he became deputy governor to McWherter.

He served as deputy governor until January, 1993, when McWherter appointed Mathews to the U.S. Senate, succeeding Al Gore after Gore became vice president. He did not seek election to a regular term and stepped down in December, 1994, after Fred Thompson won the seat.

He was afterwards active as a lawyer and lobbyist until retirement. Besides his wife, Mathews is survived by two sons, Stan and Les Mathews, and granddaughters Katie Zipper and Emily Mathews. He was preceded in death by his son Rick Mathews.

The funeral is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home, 9090 Highway 100, in Nashville. The service will be preceded by visitation starting at 1:30 p.m. The family requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Nashville School of Law, where Mathews obtained his law degree, and Alive Hospice.

“Harlan was the man behind the man,” said Billy Stair, a longtime friend who was senior adviser to McWherter while Mathews was deputy governor.

He was a behind-the-scenes adviser to Clement, for example, in dealing with the aftermath of the 1957 Clinton school bombing and to Ellington when state legislators moved to assert more independence from the governor in the 1960s. He counseled McWherter on many matters, including how to deal with a historic Supreme Court ruling that found the state’s education system unconstitutional.

“In all those decisions his fingerprints were not there because he never sought the limelight or acclaim,” aid Stair. “But his counsel and his advice were there in all those decisions.

“He was not an eloquent public speaker. His eloquence was in the example that he showed every day with the people he worked work. That’s what inspired us to stay in public service.”

“There is no figure in modern Tennessee history, in my opinion, who was more impactful to the citizens of Tennessee than Harlan Mathews – and I include my dad in that,” said Mike McWherter, son of the former governor, the 2010 Democratic nominee for governor and currently a member of the TVA board. “He was a highly-active, behind-the-scenes guy who has had an impact on a lot of people.”

“Except for his great friend Ned McWherter, no one had more friends around the state capitol than Harlan Mathews did. He served our state and our country with distinction. Honey and I send our sympathy to Patsy and to their family,” said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican who was governor during much of Mathews’ tenure as state treasurer.

The current state treasurer, Republican David Lillard, said Mathews was “a great leader and a wonderful person” and “the father of the modern Tennessee Treasury Department.”

“During his service as state treasurer, the department established its unclaimed property program, its 401(k) and 457 plans and its chairs of excellence program, to name only a few of his many initiatives. He also managed the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, the retirement program for state workers, teachers and other public employees, in a financially prudent manner which still has a positive impact for retirees and future retirees to this day.

“Sen. Mathews has been a good friend to me personally during my service as Treasurer. His support for the Treasury Department he loved and its employees never wavered. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his widow and family,” Lillard said.

Born in Sumiton, Ala., Mathews came to Nashville from Jacksonville State College to enroll in Vanderbilt University, where he later obtained a masters degree in public administration. While in school, he took a job at the State Planning office and then met Clement, who hired him as an assistant.

That led to Mathews appointment in 1961 as state finance commissioner by Gov. Buford Ellington, a post he held for ten years.

In, 1971, following the electlon of Republican Winfield Dunn as governor, Mathews briefly left state government to work in the private sector. He returned in 1973 to serve as the legislative assistant to longtime state comptroller Snodgrass. The Tennessee General Assembly elected Mathews state treasurer in 1974 when his predecessor, Tom Wiseman, opted to run for governor.

He served as state treasuer until beoming McWherter’s deputy and held that position until appointed to the U.S. Senate.

From the family-approved email:

Honorary pallbearers include Steve Adams, Tom Benson, Carl Brown, Tom Cone, Nancy-Ann DeParle, John Faber, Jim Hall, Don Holt, Carl Johnson, Dr. Joe Johnson, Jeremy Kane, David Lillard, J.W. Luna, David Manning, Raymond Marston, Mike McWherter, Clayton McWhorter, John Morgan, William Nichols, Roy Nix, Parker Sherrill, Arnold Tackett, Bo Roberts, Pete Sain, Dale Sims, Captain Bobby Trotter, David Welles, Bill Whitson, and “Harlan’s Girls” – Estie Harris, Adrienne Knestrick, Katy Varney and Beth Winstead.

Harlan Mathews, former U.S. senator and state treasurer, gravely ill

Former U.S. Sen. Harlan Mathews, who also served as Tennessee’s state treasurer and deputy to Gov. Ned McWherter, is gravely ill and has been admitted to a Nashville hospice facility, according to family friends.

Mathews, 87, began a long career in the public service arena in 1950 during the administration of Gov. Gordon Browning. He continued to serve during the administrations of Govs. Frank Clement and Buford Ellington, including a long stint as state finance commissioner.

Mathews subsequently served as an assistant to longtime state Comptroller Bill Snodgrass, then was elected state treasurer in 1974, holding that position until 1987, when he became deputy governor to McWherter.

He served as deputy governor until January, 1993, when McWherter appointed Mathews to the U.S. Senate, succeeding Al Gore after Gore became vice president. He did not seek election to a regular term and stepped down in December, 1994, after Fred Thompson won the seat.

He was afterwards active as a lawyer and lobbyist until retirement. Mathews and his wife, Patsy, have two sons, Les and Stanley.

On a veto override 40 years ago

Robert Houk recalls a vote in the legislature 40 years ago that “helped to shape the entire Northeast Tennessee region as we know it today” (and some other things that happened back then). An excerpt:

On March 12, 1974, then-House Speaker Ned Ray McWherter cast the deciding vote to overturn then Republican Gov. Winfield Dunn’s veto of legislation to establish a medical school at East Tennessee State University.

It was certainly a crucial vote for this part of the state and for McWherter’s political career. Our area gained a medical school and McWherter (a Democrat) would later be elected governor — thanks in part to the support of local Republicans who remembered his vote.

A few years before his death, McWherter recalled being threatened by the mayor of Memphis, who was a product of the old Boss Crump political machine. The mayor told him his political career would be over if he voted for the ETSU college of medicine.

As things turned out, the mayor of Memphis ended his days selling farm machinery in Arkansas while McWherter would be elected to two terms as governor of Tennessee.
It might not have happened that way had McWherter not voted to override Dunn’s veto in 1974. That was just one of the remarkable things that happened in 1974
.

New Haslam TV Ad: He’s ‘Great’ — Just Like Ned McWherter & Phil Bredesen

In his first TV ad of the general election seasion, Bill Haslam compares himself to the state’s “great leaders,” notably including Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen.
The two former Democratic governors, of course, are the oft-praised icons of Haslam’s opponent, Mike McWherter, the son of Ned. The Republican nominee, it seems, is trying to claim the mantle of bipartisanship and steal a bit of the Democrat’s thunder from being endorsed by his two political allies.
The AP has this reacton from the McWherter camp:
McWherter spokesman Shelby White said Haslam’s ad “fails to address the fact that his family strongly supported Don Sundquist and raised millions of dollars to support their quest for a state income tax.
“Haslam is desperately trying to hijack the legacies of Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen, legacies that his family initially opposed,” he said.
Haslam’s father, Jim Haslam, was a board member of Citizens for Fair Taxes, a group formed in 1999 with a budget of $1.8 million to advocate for tax reform. The group did not support any particular plan among the several proposed by lawmakers and Sundquist, although critics contended its ultimate goal was a statewide income tax.
Bill Haslam says he is adamantly against a state income tax
.
Here’s the Haslam ad script, delivered by a male narrator:
There’s no place like Tennessee. Mountains in the East, river in the West. Heartfelt music in every corner. Good people. Great leaders. Phil Bredesen, Ned McWherter, Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker.
People who take our natural good and give it a shine. There’s another good man from Tennessee. Thinks he can make a difference. Seasoned in the world of business. Created thousands of jobs.
As mayor, led Knoxville to its best days ever. Sees Tennessee a few steps ahead of some. Plan’s right for the future. Brings us security, prosperity. Bill Haslam. Businessman. Mayor. A good man. The right experience to be Governor.
Not for any part of Tennessee, but for the good of all Tennessee.”

NASHVILLE – Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam’s campaign announced today it would begin airing on Sunday its first television spot of the General Election campaign, an ad emphasizing his proven experience creating jobs and making the tough decisions the next governor will face.
“Tennessee has been blessed with great leaders – statesmen – who rise above the fray during difficult times,” said Mark Cate, Campaign Manager. “Bill Haslam is that type of leader and the combination of his public and private executive experience makes him uniquely qualified to govern in these challenging times.”
The 60-second ad features scenes and people from West, Middle and East Tennessee and appeals to Republicans, Democrats and Independents. It will begin running statewide on broadcast and cable channels Sunday, August 15.
The ad capitalizes on Haslam’s momentum coming out of the Republican Primary in which he won 47 percent of the vote in strong three-man race.
The latest independent survey of likely Tennessee voters showed Haslam with a 25-point lead over his untested and unproven opponent.
“This ad reaches out to all voters who are concerned about the challenges facing our state: high unemployment, a tough budget season and an education system that has spent too much time at the back of the pack,” Cate said. “Bill Haslam is the statesman to the lead the state and the only candidate with a plan to do so.”