Outgoing Gov. Phil Bredesen says he’s not surprised that the Republican looking to fill his seat is attracting support from a number of prominent Democrats, including some who were formerly high-ranking members of his administration.
The lame-duck governor said he himself won elections by reaching out to independent and moderate Republicans and said the Democratic candidate, Mike McWherter, will have to do much of the same.
“I absolutely believe that Tennessee is a state where if you’re going to be elected, you have to have your own party, and you’ve got to also reach deeply into independents if you’re going to be elected,” he told reporters Thursday. “That was certainly my strategy in both 2002 and 2006, and it worked well.”
Knoxville Mayor and Republican candidate Bill Haslam announced that 105 prominent Democrats and independents had signed on in support of his campaign. The list includes Bredesen’s former revenue director, Reagan Farr, who left the administration for a job in the private sector earlier this month.
Twelve other former members of Bredesen’s administration crowded Haslam’s support list, including Betsy Child, Bredesen’s former commissioner of environment and conservation, and Robert Gowan, former senior advisor for legislation and policy.
Bredesen said he knew several from his camp were supporting Haslam, but he said he’s asked members of his current administration to avoid endorsing candidates.