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Chattanooga Times Endorses McWherter; Free Press Lauds Two Self-described Conservatives

Press Release From the McWherter Campaign, Sept. 30, 2010:

Chattanooga Times Free Press’ Dueling Editorial Boards Both Express Enthusiasm for McWherter

CHATTANOOGA – Mike McWherter, Democratic candidate for Governor, received a key endorsement yesterday from Chattanooga’s leading newspaper. Citing his business experience and transparent approach to governance, the Chattanooga Times editorial board issued a strong statement of support for the Jackson businessman, while its counterpart, the Chattanooga Free Press editorial board, expressed enthusiasm for McWherter and his opponent.

One of main reasons cited by the Times for backing McWherter focused on Bill Haslam’s unwillingness to disclose his Pilot Oil holdings. Throughout the course of the campaign Bill Haslam has made misleading statements about the ownership structure of the family oil company and has repeatedly denied requests to divulge information about potential conflicts of interest that could influence his decisions as governor. The Times stated:

He [McWherter] rightly calls for Haslam to make a full disclosure of his income and to quit blatantly misrepresenting Pilot Oil as a purely family business. McWherter charges that the company’s equity partner, a Luxembourg corporation, does business with Iran and has influence on the business. …McWherter has made a full disclosure of his income. He also pledges to put his assets in a blind trust if elected. Haslam has refused to disclose his assets, and will not commit to a blind trust. That, McWherter correctly points out, leaves him with potential conflicts of interests in his dealings as governor with the corporate world.

In addition, The Chattanooga Times honed in on Mike’s business acumen and his concrete proposal to foster the growth of small business by providing job growth tax breaks. The editorial board wrote:

He personally financed and built up his own business, a beverage distributorship in Jackson, Tenn.; it wasn’t handed to him. Thus he’s got bona fide hands-on understanding of what makes small businesses tick, the necessary fuel for ginning up the state’s most reliable job generator.

The Free Press, which is the second of the Chattanooga Times Free Press’s dueling editorial boards, issued an endorsement, mainly outlining and expressing their enthusiasm for McWherter’s policies and stated:

Mr. McWherter says he expects to have a smaller state budget if he is elected governor, and emphasizes creating small businesses and more jobs, with better educational opportunities for Tennesseans. Mr. McWherter’s tax and job plan involves offering a $2,500 state tax credit for each new job created by a small business with 125 or fewer employees. He foresees no tax increase, and opposes a general Tennessee income tax.

Both editorial boards, each representing the left and the right, from one of Tennessee’s most respected newspapers expressed support for McWherter in their gubernatorial endorsements. Neither board praised any of Haslam’s initiatives and in fact cite his continued refusal to come clean with Tennessee voters as a deal breaker with the following declaration:

That[non-disclosure] should not be tolerated. McWherter is on the right side of this vital issue. Haslam is not. Does Haslam have something to hide?

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