McMillan: Money Isn’t Everything In Dem Guv’s Race

Her cash on hand pales in comparison to that raised by her 2010 primary campaign opponents. But Kim McMillan is confident her diverse political resume, which includes leading the state House majority and working side-by-side with Gov. Phil Bredesen, gives her a legitimate shot at capturing the Democratic nomination for governor.

She may not have a lot of money in her campaign war chest, but Kim McMillan says she makes up for it in political drive.

McMillan, a former Democratic majority leader in the Tennessee House of Representatives, says she’s not letting modest campaign contributions stand in the way of her winning the party’s gubernatorial primary this August.

“I may not have the most money of all the candidates, but I clearly believe that I have enough to be a viable candidate,” McMillan told TNReport during a visit to the Capitol on Tuesday.

In her latest campaign finance breakdown, McMillan reported thus far gathering $106,931 to fund her bid for governor.

Both her opponents ended the same reporting period with much more money in their political piggy banks. Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle had $588,042 on hand and Jackson businessman Mike McWherter had $619,999.

But McMillan — elected six times to the state House, and now a political science instructor at Austin Peay State University — says that when it comes to stimulating campaign energy and the passion for her cause, message is more important than money.

In 2002, McMillan became the first female ever to be elected Tennessee House majority leader. She was reelected to that post in 2004.

In 2006, Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed her to his cabinet as a senior adviser.

She worked in his administration for two years and said she’d like to continue with several of the policies and priorities he forged throughout his two terms in office.

McMillan says she’s been particularly impressed with, in her view, Bredesen’s record of responsible adherence to fiscal discipline while adequately funding important government programs and initiatives.

McMillan’s said her leadership style as governor would involve lots of give-and-take with constituencies not often heard from on Capitol Hill.

“A Kim McMillan governorship would be all about listening to the people of Tennessee, responding to their needs, and trying to address those things that are important to them,” she said.

One item on her to-do list as governor is exploring ways to duplicate Austin Peay’s partnership with Hemlock Semiconductor for other universities across the state. Together, Hemlock and Austin Peay are launching a two-year degree program in chemical engineering technology that’s aimed at preparing students for jobs like those offered by the global solar-system component supplier.

“That’s the way we create jobs. Working outside the box, working and partnering with our educational institutions, and we can do it all across the state of Tennessee,” she said.

McMillan lives in Clarksville with her husband and two teenage children.

Andrea Zelinski can be reached at

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