Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and state Sen. Stacey Campfield both say they are being urged to run against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in next year’s Republican primary, but have no intention of doing so.
“I’m not exaggerating, I get a dozen emails a week asking me to run,” Ramsey told reporters. “The tea party groups are out there looking for an opponent and I think they’ll have a hard time finding one against Lamar.”
The Senate speaker said he doesn’t even want the job.
“Why would I want to step down and be a United States senator?” Ramsey said. “He’s one of one hundred. I’m one of one.”
Campfield, R-Knoxville, said he has also received frequent entreaties from conservatives urging him to challenge Alexander, but tells them he is “happy being a state senator.” Campfield is up for re-election to his seat next year and already has Richard Briggs, a Knox County commissioner and physician, running against him.
“I’ve had people ask me, but short of them coming up with millions of dollars to get the message out about how wonderful I am, no, I’m not running,” he said.
Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, stirred a flurry of interest recently when a tea party blog reported he canceled an appearance at an Alexander event because he was upset with the incumbent’s vote on an immigration bill. But a spokeswoman told the Tennessean that Green and Alexander are friends and he missed the event for family reasons.
Ramsey said he talked with Green, counseling him against opposing Alexander because “I know what it’s like” to be hugely outspent in a campaign — a reference to his unsuccessful run against Bill Haslam for governor in 2010 — and “I think he’s doing too good a job in the state Senate.”
House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh says he may become a candidate for governor in 2014, but not because he thinks a Democrat can beat Republican incumbent Gov. Bill Haslam.
“I don’t think Gov. Haslam is going to lose any sleep over me,” Fitzhugh said in an interview. “Our current governor is a good man with deep pockets and a 70 percent approval rating.”
Actually, Haslam’s approval rating was just 68 percent in a Vanderbilt University poll released last week. But that included a 60 percent favorable nod from those self-identifying themselves as Democrats.
If he runs, Fitzhugh said, “it would be an issues deal” with the idea in mind of having a statewide candidate on the ballot without big negatives to drag down Democrats seeking other offices, such as state legislator.
“It would have nothing to do with him (Haslam) personally. I like him very much,” said Fitzhugh.
This year, the only statewide Democratic candidate on the ballot was Mark Clayton, who had been officially disavowed by the state Democratic Party for what Chairman Chip Forrester characterized as “extremist views” and membership in an “anti-gay hate group.” Clayton nonetheless won 30 percent of the vote in losing to Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker. And at the very top of the Democratic ticket was President Barack Obama, who Fitzhugh said “is not very popular in Tennessee” and got just 39 percent of the statewide vote in losing the state to Republican Mitt Romney.
“Democrats need somebody at the top of the ticket that people can rally around,” Fitzhugh said. “We didn’t have anything like that in this last election. Maybe there’s somebody else out there who can be that type of person. That’s sort of what I was thinking (when he decided to acknowledge an interest in running).”
Fitzhugh said he will delay a final decision on running as long as possible — “the shorter (a campaign) the better” — and much will depend on the way things develop in the coming 2013 legislative session.
“I don’t think we need to continue another two years down the road we’ve gone,” he said. “Not that it’s totally the governor’s fault that the Legislature passes these bills” focusing on controversial social issues rather than jobs and people while tuition increases annually at colleges, universities and trade schools and Republicans strive “farm education (in grades K-12) out to the private sector.”
“I’m not meaning to start a gubernatorial campaign right now. This is meant to try and get our focus back and move in the right direction,” said Fitzhugh, who was re-elected without opposition a new term as House Democratic leader last week.
State Sen. Jim Tracy tells his hometown newspaper that he’s not running for Congress, at least not now, and expressed surprise at the suggestion he will do so in 2014 (though not ruling it out). Excerpt from the story (previous post HERE)” Tracy, who considered a congressional bid this year, expressed concern over the “serious allegations” against DesJarlais, but said he voted for the congressman in early voting.
The Associated Press reported on Friday that “an operative familiar with state Sen. Jim Tracy’s plans” said Tracy has met with donors and could launch his candidacy for the 4th District congressional seat before Christmas. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Tracy has not yet announced his plans.
“I didn’t know I had any ‘operatives,'” Tracy told the Times-Gazette later in the day on Friday.
Tracy told both AP and the Times-Gazette that he was focusing on his re-election plans and on supporting other conservative candidates.
“That’s really all I’m doing,” he told the Times-Gazette.
State Senate Democratic Leader. Jim Kyle announced Friday he will not run for Shelby County district attorney general next year, reports Rick Locker. A special general election is scheduled for next August for the office in the wake of former district attorney general Bill Gibbons’ departure in January to join Gov. Bill Haslam’s cabinet as commissioner of safety and homeland security. Haslam appointed Gibbons’ deputy district attorney, Amy P. Weirich, a Republican, to replace him in January and she will be a candidate for the remainder of the term.
The qualifying deadline for candidates is Dec. 8 and the special primary election for the office is in March.
“Approximately two weeks ago, several good Democrats contacted me to encourage me to run for District Attorney of Shelby County. I am writing you today to decline their generous offer of support, and wanted to take a moment to explain why,” Kyle wrote.
He said that the sudden death of his longtime law partner earlier this year put the law firm’s future in question.
“At that time, I told my lawyers, staff and clients that if they stuck with me, we would continue to move forward. They did, and we have. It would be unfair of me to tell them six months later that I was leaving the practice that I had promised to keep together. I have always tried to do the right thing, and I know that this is the right decision for both my family and the people close to me,” Kyle wrote.
“Please know that I still believe that a candidate with strong, united Democratic support can be successful in Shelby County. That’s why I wanted to tell you of my decision before the filing deadline,” he said.