Republican gubernatorial primary gets nasty

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 5:30pm

The Republican governor's race suddenly came alive Wednesday with Ron Ramsey airing his first TV ad and candidates sniping at each other over which one is most like a big-spending, tax-happy Washington politician.

Ramsey's 30-second ad shows the Senate speaker climbing the stairs inside the Capitol as he complains about the "Washington way" of governance.

"The Tennessee way says tighten your belts, be conservative, live within your means. If you'll hang tough with me, we'll keep running our state the Tennessee way," Ramsey says in the spot, adding as he stomps his cowboy boot: "If those guys in Washington don't like it, well, we'll just give 'em the boot."

Congressman Zach Wamp decided the ad was aimed at him as the only one of Ramsey's rivals who works in Washington, and his campaign fired back in a statement:

“Ron Ramsey obviously is trying to rewrite history. The ad fails to mention that state spending has nearly tripled since he joined the legislature, from $11 billion to $29 billion a year, and state government has added more than 10,000 workers to the payroll on his watch.

“Let's be clear. When Sen. Ramsey had a chance to slow the runaway growth of state government, he voted to pass the largest tax increase in Tennessee history, and even flirted with a new state income tax along the way. Now that may be Ron Ramsey's way, but it's the wrong way for Tennessee taxpayers.”

Also on Wednesday, the third candidate in the GOP primary, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, put out an innocuous news release promising to conduct "a top-to-bottom review" of state government spending. Ramsey's campaign went on the attack then, too.

“It’s troubling that Mayor Haslam is simply delegating the crucial job of cutting waste to a task force," campaign spokeswoman Rachel Taylor said. "Assigning a task force and passing the buck is the Washington way, just look at Obama’s debt commission. Tennessee doesn’t need a commission or a task force to reduce the size of government, we need a governor who has experience in state government, knows the budget, and can do the job on his very first day. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is the only candidate in this race with the experience and the leadership skills to enable him to meet this task head-on.”

7 Comments on this post:

By: 117_acres on 4/14/10 at 4:32

Zack Wamp + John Rich = Bromance
1st there was Brangelina
2nd there was TomKat
Now we have Wamp & Rich= Wamich

By: Strider on 4/14/10 at 8:53

This is not the first time Wamp has shown an over-reaching almost childish temper lately. Speaking with others who have dealt with him over time this is not anything new. This trait coupled with a lack of business administrative experience leads me to looking solely at Haslam or Ramsey for my vote.

Ramsey's ad is kind of hokey, and I doubt he would win any talent contest; but I react to it as seeing the real person compared to what I get out of the ultra-slick feel-good Haslam ads. I imagine Ramsey will get some ridicule about the "giving the boot" ending, but the way I feel about what is being done to this country by those in charge in Washington, I actually like the tough attitude. I am still looking for more leadership substance from both of them.

By: dlin on 4/15/10 at 8:14

Zach was a successful leader, commerical real estate developer and a business Vice President before going to congress. Real Estate is a business by the way. He has done more to help economic development in his district than the state government has done in the past 20 years. Former Chattagnooga Mayor now Senator Corker called Zach the Regional Mayor due to his leadership and use of his Officel in developing regional planning and economic development while he has been in Congress. We do not need "Administrative Experience" we need passionate leadership and conviction---that my dear writer is not "childish Temmper" it is conviction, calling the shots as they are and passion for leadership. I guess you would call Patrick Henry over-reaching and having a childesh temper for saying---"'Give me Liberity or Give me Death". If Ramsey is giong to over generalize on Wamp's Washington experience then he must be ready to except the same thing from Zach on his Nashville experience.

By: vechester on 4/15/10 at 8:17

Strider I agree. I'm tired of all the fluff and cutesy ads. I'm looking for the true fiscal conservative who is actually familiar with the Constitution and doesn't want to rewrite it.

I also am tired of second term politicians who become either void of conservative substance or switch parties right after the election (aka Sundquist!) If a politician can't make his/her mark in one term, then get out! And more than ever, our Representatives in DC need to be held to that as well!

By: miscueiam@hotma... on 4/15/10 at 8:30



By: Strider on 4/15/10 at 2:13

dlin, I appreciate your defence of Wamp. Knowing some folks in his congressional district he has worked with - and some all the way back to his wild youth - he has done a lot for his district as a congressman. Nevertheless, he also has a substantiated reputation of being extremely tempermental. I perhaps should not have used the term "childish", but other descriptions I have heard could not be printed here. This for me is a character flaw I cannot discard for one wanting to be my governor. I agree with you that we need passionate leadership; but passionate coupled with leadership is far different from that of my concern. I will have to hear more about how work as a real estate developer (was that with his daddy's business 20 years ago?) translates to being an accomplished manager and sober leader of a very large enterprise.

By: sjc on 4/19/10 at 10:30

Did Zach Wamp even attend college? I don't believe he did. If you expect to become and governor, I believe you should have a formal education. The fact he can run is ridiculous.