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Republicans Relish Inaugural Remarks, Historic Moment

Times are flush for the GOP right now. And Bill Haslam’s first speech as the 49th governor had Republican lawmakers brimming with confidence and eager to start working closely with their partisan ally.

Tennessee Republicans, riding high and living large in both chambers of the state’s General Assembly, were all smiles and optimism after Gov. Bill Haslam’s inaugural speech Saturday.

Which wasn’t too surprising. With Haslam’s swearing in as 49th governor of the state, they control the Legislature and the executive branch for the first time since the late 1860s.

TNReport caught up with several GOP lawmakers after Haslam’s inauguration. Here are some of their observations and impressions on the important day:

State Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, says he agrees with the themes and points of emphasis in Haslam’s first speech as governor, particularly the parts about government scaling back programs and spending.

Rep. Glen Casada, a Franklin Republican and one-time contender for Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, said that from his vantage point the new governor was at his Bill Haslam-best and hit the right points in his inauguration speech. Casada added that people have to understand that cuts and reductions are indeed coming, it’s not a matter of if but when.

Johnson City state Sen. Rusty Crowe said he thinks Haslam is positioned well to deliver a solid budget to the General Assembly — and in comparison to other states, the fiscal picture could be a lot worse.

Somerville Sen. Dolores Gresham, who chairs the chamber’s education committee, said she’s eager to get the session underway and begin working with Haslam. She said she’s looking forward to education reform efforts with the new administration.

Germantown Sen. Brian Kelsey said former Gov. Phil Bredesen did an “excellent job” as the state’s highest ranking government leader for the past eight years and that the new governor will build upon his achievements, particularly in the realm of education.

Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, said Haslam seems to have hit the ground running and hitting on all cylinders politically from the outset. “It’s going to be an exciting time for our state,” said Ketron.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, of Blountville, said Haslam’s plan for regionalizing economic development initiatives, redoubling education reform have Republicans in a state of high optimism, and his talk of scaling back government spending and programs are welcome words not just to the GOP faithful, but to voters in general. Ramsey noted that he and former Gov. Bredesen “got along most of the time, we really did.” He added, “On fiscal issues, we got along almost all of the time.”

Shelbyville Sen. Jim Tracy said he particularly liked Haslam’s talk of “cutting and living within our means, just like we have to do with our family budget.”

Sen Jamie Woodson lauded Haslam’s focus on education in his address.

TNReport also spoke to Democrats and the Legislature’s lone Independent about their impressions of Haslam’s speech.

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