Gov. Bill Haslam hasn’t thought much about what his perfect General Assembly would look like, but says there’s “no doubt” the scores of Republicans in the Legislature have helped him advance his agenda.
Despite political division between moderate and conservative Republicans on several hot topics this year, Haslam says more GOP members in the Legislature means his team will have an easier time passing much of his legislation, like they did the last two years approving civil service and education reforms.
“I’d love to say it’s all my wisdom, intelligent approach to legislation. But the reality is when you have more people that are on your side, things tend to go a little easier,” Haslam told reporters after speaking at the Digital Government Summit in downtown Nashville Tuesday.
Haslam is promising to pop his head in at campaign events for GOP incumbents this primary and general election season, including House Education Chairman Richard Montgomery of Sevierville and Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Brooks of Cleveland, who both have primary election challengers, among others.
The newest legislator on Haslam’s list of candidates to stump for is Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville. Maggart has become the target of criticism for helping derail legislation to allow workers to store guns in their vehicles on their employers’ parking lots. She faces off against fellow Republican Courtney Rogers, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel supported by the Tennessee Firearms Association, in the Aug. 2 primary.
Haslam said his support is not an attempt to block someone who may be more conservative from taking Maggart’s spot.
“I thought she did take a lot of unmerited heat. I think anybody who would question Debra’s conservatism I think is missing something,” he said. “This isn’t just about Debra. It’s about helping a lot of folks who we think can be helpful to us in the process.”