Press Releases

TFA: Maggart Lying About Record of Gun-Rights Support

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; August 1, 2012: 

Debra Maggart’s “right” to be re-election in serious doubt

A few weeks ago, Debra Maggart told the Tennessean (that story appears to be off line now but is referenced on other news sites) that Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers was not a “legitimate challenger”. Regardless of the outcome on Thursday, Maggart cannot make that claim now as she has been attacked by practically every grassroots organization interested in the 2nd Amendment in the last 2 months – viciously. All of this citizen based grassroots support is solidly aligned behind and working to for Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers.

It appears Maggart did not in truth take the Rogers race seriously until perhaps mid July. At that point, it appears Maggart has made an all out effort to defend her seat on one lie. Maggart is running an ad campaign that claims Rogers inappropriate answered “none” on a candidate disclosure form which asked if she had been “discharged” from bankruptcy in the preceding 5 years. Rogers answered truthful because her business related bankruptcy was almost 7 years prior at the time. 7 is more than 5 to most “fifth graders” but not to Debra Maggart.

This past week, another national organization has joined the effort to elect Lt. Col. Rogers and defeat Debra Maggart. That organization is NAGR, the National Association of Gun Rights. It joins the ranks of TFA, NRA, and others all of which expertly and credibly note that Maggart has worked to impair 2nd Amendment rights in Tennessee.

Debra Maggart’s claims that she has been good in 2011 and 2012 on the 2nd Amendment are no more credible that her other advertising – lies, all lies.

Republican leaders like Debra Maggart and Gerald McCormick have been claiming that their number one job is to re-elect incumbents – nothing more than a heightened partisan role. In a news report dated June 1, 2012, their “partisan first” and “incumbent first” mentalities are highlighted:

Tennessee Republicans are looking to tighten their grip on state government in the Nov. 6 general election by winning an even larger legislative majority than they’ve enjoyed the last two years.

But party leaders, particularly in the House, say a first priority is to ensure that members of their caucus survive challenges in the Aug. 2 primary.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart both say incumbents winning primaries is a prime concern. In McCormick’s words, incumbents deserve to be “rewarded on election day” for responsibly governing since they began dominating state politics two years ago.

* * *

Maggart sees it as her unwavering responsibility to ensure sitting lawmakers get their jobs back next year. And she faces her own tough re-election challenge against Courtney Rogers of Goodlettsville, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel.

Supporting a candidate can mean everything from political donations from individual lawmakers or the well-funded House GOP Caucus, appearances from high-ranking lawmakers such as Speaker Beth Harwell and even coming out to knock on doors or work political fundraisers.

“My job is to bring the incumbents back,” Maggart told TNReport. “That’s our job — my job — as the caucus leader.”

Debra Maggart claims that they are entitled to be “Republican” re-elected. That they are entitled to be rewarded as “Republican” incumbents. Maggart claims its her “job” to bring them back.

The big question is whether this allegedly “illegitimate” challenge from Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers and the opposition of serious citizens and grassroots organizations is proving that a Debra Maggart is going to have a hard time doing her job as the “caucus” leader of even getting herself re-elected much less others!

Indeed, she and Harwell have reportedly been begging other Republican incumbents to give Maggart their campaign contributions from their own races to try and save Maggart herself from the allegedly illegitimate challenge to her throne. Although we will not know until the October disclosure reports are filed, my bet is that very few of these other Republican incumbents have given her money and even fewer have stepped up as of the eve of the election and publicly stood and endorsed Maggart.

Press Releases

Haslam Releases Schedule of Regional Fundraisers

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor; Sept. 7, 2010:

Events Highlight Growing Momentum for Knoxville Mayor

NASHVILLE – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam’s campaign announced an impressive calendar of regional fundraisers and event leadership for the General Election.

The events and leadership show the tremendous confidence in Bill Haslam, his experience and his ability to lead our state as our next Governor. Tennesseans from across the state are coalescing behind him as the best prepared to take on this state’s challenges, make it the No. 1 location in the Southeast for jobs and capitalize on its unique opportunities.

The events are:

• September 16 in Memphis: hosted by Barbara and Pitt Hyde, Dina and Brad Martin, Amy and Bill Rhodes, and Diane and Fred Smith

• September 21 in Jackson: hosted by Alice and Carl Kirkland, Jimmy Wallace and Gary Taylor

• September 22 in Parsons: hosted by Janet and Jim Ayers and Fran and Scooter Clippard

• September 24 in Chattanooga: hosted by Elizabeth and Sen. Bob Corker with Honey and Sen. Lamar Alexander in attendance

• September 27 in Limestone: hosted by Sandy and Jim Powell and Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey

• September 28 in Knoxville: hosted by Cindi and Pete DeBusk

• October 4 in Nashville: hosted by Karyn and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and chaired by Steve Smith.

“These events showcase the strong statewide support for Bill Haslam and his vision to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for jobs,” said Kim Kaegi, Campaign Finance Director. “With only five weeks until early voting starts, these events should put the campaign in a great position.”

“Crissy and I are incredibly grateful to all of the Tennesseans from each of our great state’s 95 counties who have already been so generous to us, but I promised we’ll keep working and we’re doing that,” Haslam said. “I’m humbled by the people that have stepped forward to host for us, and we truly appreciate their efforts as we work toward the start of early voting on Oct. 13 and Election Day Nov. 2.”

Mayor Haslam is the two-term Republican Mayor of Knoxville, reelected in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote. A hardworking public servant, Haslam led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, reducing the number of city employees to the lowest amount in 15 years and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years. An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees.

For more information on Bill Haslam, please visit

Press Releases

Ramsey: Past Sales Tax Holidays Have Been Successful

Press Release from Lt. Gov. and GOP Candidate for Governor Ron Ramsey; Aug. 2, 2010;

Tax Holiday Set for August 6 – 8

(NASHVILLE) – Local businesses and consumers will get a boost from the “sales tax holiday” set to begin this Friday, August 6 and ending Sunday, August 8 according to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, a key supporter of the measure passed by the General Assembly in 2005. The holiday, which has been in effect since 2006, is set by law to take place at 12:01 a.m. on the first Friday in August and ends at 11:59 p.m. on the following Sunday.

“Every year since its implementation, this sales tax holiday weekend continues to be a big boost for retail businesses in Tennessee, proving tax relief is a key factor in stimulating the economy ,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “It also provides tax relief for working families, particularly those who are buying back-to-school clothing and supplies.”

Ramsey said the holiday is particularly geared toward back to school needs, but it applies to clothing and many other items, which helps consumers of any age. During the holiday, clothing and school supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less per item will be exempt from the state sales and use tax. Clothing includes shirts, dresses, pants, coats, gloves, hats and caps, hosiery, neckties, belts, sneakers, shoes, uniforms and scarves. School supplies include items used by a student in a course of study. It also includes binders, book bags, calculators, tape, chalk, crayons, erasers, folders, glue, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, notebooks, paper, ruler, and scissors.

“I am very pleased that this legislation was approved and has provided tax relief to our citizens, as well as a boost to our economy. I hope many citizens will continue take advantage of this sales tax holiday this year.” Ramsey concluded.

Featured Liberty and Justice News Transparency and Elections

Lt. Guv: TN AG Should Back AZ

Ron Ramsey is making another run at convincing the Tennessee attorney general to defend a state-level legislative prerogative against interference by the federal government.

During the Tennessee General Assembly’s regular session earlier this year, Ramsey tried unsuccessfully to persuade state Attorney General Robert Cooper to join a number of other states in challenging elements of the federal health-care overhaul that Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration pushed through last winter.

On Friday, Ramsey — a Blountville Republican seeking to become the GOP’s pick next month to run against Democrat Mike McWherter in the November general election — urged Cooper to file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Arizona’s new crackdown on illegal-immigrants, scheduled to take effect July 29.

Tennessee lawmakers approved two immigration-related bills earlier this year. One was a joint resolution in the House of Representatives congratulating Arizona for passing the new illegal immigration law. The other allows local law enforcement to verify a suspect or inmate’s citizenship status and report illegal aliens to the federal government.

The U.S. Justice Department announced a few weeks ago that it will challenge the Arizona law, which allows state and local police to check for citizenship status while enforcing other laws — including minor traffic violations — if there is a reasonable suspicion that an individual is illegally in the country.

Justice department lawyers say the federal government, not the states, is solely responsible for enforcing the country’s immigration policies.  A U.S. attorney told a federal judge during a hearing on the matter in Phoenix Thursday that “regulation of immigration is unquestionably, exclusively, a federal power.”

Ramsey and other Tennessee politicians who say they support Arizona’s efforts argue that indeed it is the federal government’s job to control movement of foreigners into the United States. But the feds are failing to live up to that responsibility, they say, and therefore the states have been put in the position of having to take enforcement matters into their own hands.

“This is just another symptom of the disease that the federal government, not only in this case, is paying no attention to the citizens but its actually suing the citizens of the United States, suing Arizona for simply enforcing the law,” Ramsey told reporters during a press conference Friday morning.

Illegal immigration is as important to Tennessee as it is to Arizona, Ramsey added. Tennessee highways act as a corridor for those immigrants to pass through and opens the state up to potential drug trafficking, said the lieutenant governor.

Nine other states have filed amicus briefs weighing in on the case.

“We rarely, if ever, use resources to participate in a trail court proceeding in another state,” Cooper wrote in an emailed statement. “Like most other Attorneys General, we are watching the case closely without actively participating, and we expect that the trial court in this matter will provide valuable legal analysis and insight.”

News Tax and Budget

Lynn Sees Gap Spanning Beavers’ Public Words, Legislative Deeds

One of this primary season’s most watched political brawls is heating up this week as two well-known state sovereignty champions whip negative campaign mailers and press releases at each other.

On top of sparring about the outcome of anti-health care mandates bills that failed this year, Republican State Rep. Susan Lynn is suggesting that when the rubber hits the road, state Sen. Mae Beavers’ doesn’t take either Tennessee highway safety or her professed ideological beliefs very seriously.

And a Democrat in the state Senate Dist. 17 race is capitalizing on the region’s long list of decrepit state bridges, too, promising the issue will live on long past primary election day Aug. 5.

“It’s your family. Could you vote ‘no?’ Mae Beavers did! Mae voted against funding safe bridges,” reads a Lynn campaign mailer sent out to district voters this week. “Elect me as your State Senator and I’ll fight for you to ensure that we have safe, functioning transportation corridors in DeKalb County.”

Sligo Bridge, in DeKalb County, was one of 200 roadway structures deemed by Tennessee Department of Transportation officials in need of upgrade after the high-profile 2007 bridge collapsed in Minnesota that killed 13 people.

Two years later, the federal government sent Tennessee enough stimulus dollars to fund about 70 bridge repairs statewide. Gov. Phil Bredesen then began urging the Legislature to borrow another $350 million to fix 200 other bridges.

According to voting records and archived floor debate, Beavers — who said she voted against this year’s Tennessee budget because it used stimulus funds — actually wanted the federal government to cover the bridge’s repairs when the issue came up last year. But the Tennessee Department of Transportation nixed the project from consideration because it wasn’t “shovel ready,” in keeping with federal strings attached to the stimulus money.

After some political negotiating, the Legislature — with Lynn voting in support — ultimately OK’d the plan to issue bonds to pay for the bridge repairs during the final June days of the spring 2009 legislative session.

However, the two-term incumbent senator from Mt. Juliet — who is often outwardly critical of federal meddling and interference into the affairs of state governments — voted against a borrowing package so the state could fund the bridge repairs on its own.

Before casting her “no” vote on SB2358, Sen. Beavers gave several reasons she opposed the bond measure, including that behind-the-scenes political maneuvering had unnecessarily prevented the Sligo Bridge from getting the go-ahead to be fixed with federal dollars.

“It’s strange to me that one of the most important bridges is the Sligo Bridge, and it was in the stimulus list to begin with until we decided to play politics with this bond bill,” she said on the Senate floor at the time.

“I can’t agree to borrow money in times like these, but I think politics are being played with this bond bill also, and I cannot vote for this,” she continued.

Beavers declined this week to elaborate for TNReport on what “politics” were being “played” on the bridge issues. The Sligo Bridge simply wasn’t applicable for the stimulus funds, she said.

According to TDOT, only state bridges in the most dire need across the state were considered to be fixed with stimulus funds. But to make the cut, the projects needed to be in a state in which work could start immediately, said chief engineer Paul Degges. Sligo Bridge was not, he said, so it was added to the list of bridges to be fixed later with borrowed money.

Beavers was one of three “no” votes in the Senate and eight in the House of Representatives.

Lynn says Beavers is contradicting herself by standing up for state sovereignty but refusing to fund bridge repairs when the federal government decides not to pay for them.

“The hypocrisy is she only voted against the budget because of stimulus funds,” said Lynn. “You can’t have it both ways.”

While Beavers’ mail pieces never mentioned the bridges, one of the postcards highlighted her voting against using the federal stimulus dollars to balance the state budget.

Although Beavers spoke in favor of Sligo Bridge repairs on the Senate floor, she declined to comment to TNReport whether she would have supported federal stimulus dollars paying for repairs to Sligo Bridge, saying it was never an option.

“It wasn’t a matter of it being in the stimulus money, because it wasn’t ready for any construction money,” she said.

Beavers’ says her upstart challenger is “twisting a vote around into something it’s not.”

“We’ve been operating on cash. She’s making an issue out of something that isn’t an issue,” said Beavers, who added that she supports funding construction on her local bridges. “She’s misrepresenting everything that she’s saying about me.”

Beavers and Lynn are bitter rivals seeking the same 17th District state Senate seat in the Republican primary election, representing Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith and part of Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson Counties.

The two conservatives seemingly share more surface philosophical similarities than differences — in particular, a passion for state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Bill of Rights and rhetorical disdain for expansive government.

But they also hold a common animus for one another, the public manifestations of which have often transfixed and amused many statehouse politics watchers.

However, Gordon Borck, a third Republican candidate for Beaver’s Senate seat, doesn’t find the the Beavers-Lynn feud particularly entertaining, and says district constituents are beginning to tire of their ritual hostilities as well.

Furthermore, there’s blame enough for both lawmakers to go around, he said.

Beavers shouldn’t be solely blamed for the district’s poor bridges, which also include Hurricane and Benton McMillian bridges over the Caney Fork River and Cordell Hull Bridge over the Cumberland River.

“It would appear to me that a state representative would bare as much responsibility (for bridge repair) as our current state senator,” he said.

Borck also agrees that the state should avoid using any stimulus dollars. “How can we take the money and tell the federal government to stay out of our business?” he said.

Democrats are also floating campaign messages about bridge repairs, including Sam Hatcher whose campaign ad points out the need to fix ailing bridges while making a swipe at Beavers and Lynn.

“We have bridges to repair across our district and bridges to repair in our state Senate,” he said in his add. “Let’s stop the bickering and focus on those issues that matter most to us.”


Four Bridges in the 17th District Approved in the Bond Bill, Public Act 552, according to TDOT.

Sligo Bridge over the Caney Fork River in Dekalb County is slated to be replaced in Fiscal Year 2011/2012.

Cordell Hull Bridge over the Cumberland River in Smith County is slated to be rehabilitated in Fiscal Year 2011/2012.

Hurricane Bridge over the Caney Fork River in Smith County is scheduled to be replaced in Fiscal Year 2011/2012.

Benson-McMillian Bridge over the Caney Fork River in Dekalb County is slated to be rehabilitated in Fiscal Year 2010/2011.

Press Releases

Haslam To Roll Out Early Voting Bus Tour

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor; July 15, 2010:

Candidate to Visit All Three Grand Divisions with Jobs Plan

MEMPHIS – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam will begin Friday, July 16 a bus tour to coincide with the Early Voting period of the Republican Primary on Aug. 5.

With state unemployment at 10.1 percent, Haslam, his wife Crissy, and various guests along the way will take his plan to create jobs directly to voters across the state, starting in Memphis on July 16 and making stops in all three Grand Divisions multiple times through July 31, just six days before Aug. 5.

Haslam knows the right way to develop a plan is take your ideas to the people and include them in the process. His blueprint for making Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs – released last month – was developed from Haslam’s creative solutions, taking them to the small business owners, parents, educators and various professionals and listening, learning and receiving their input.

Haslam will rally with supporters at his Memphis headquarters to kick off the tour Friday, July 16 at 8 a.m. A full schedule for July 16-17 is below. Media interested in the bus tour and logistics should contact campaign spokesman David Smith at (615) 254-6215.

Such a rapid pace is not unusual for Haslam, and voters have responded overwhelmingly in favor of his candidacy and proven record of success in the private and public sector, recognizing his leadership, experience and temperament and his commitment to core Republican principles.

For the past 19 months Haslam has worked the hardest and methodically engaged voters with his ideas and received feedback from them about his common-sense solutions to job creation, education and budget management.

Haslam’s jobs plan ties all the issue he’s been talking about over the course of the campaign together in a document providing a clear path to his goal of making Tennessee a leader in job creation.

Earlier this year, Haslam announced his Ten Principles for Fiscal Conservative Leadership, and then embarked on a three-week, statewide Jobs Tour in March, during which he announced specific initiatives for a regional approach to job creation, jobs base camps, the first ever Small Towns and Rural Development Director, Small Business Works and Tennessee First. He also released his findings after the tour, but the most common theme heard on the tour was the need for a better trained workforce.

Haslam spent April focused on workforce development – visiting community colleges, technology centers and four-year higher education institutions while releasing numerous plans to strengthen the state’s workforce development efforts. His plans include a statewide jobs clearinghouse, fostering innovative public-private partnerships and increasing accessibility through Mobile Training Units. Haslam also announced in April his intent to lead a top-to-bottom review of state government when elected.

After starting with jobs and workforce development, Haslam then focused on K-12 education, visiting schools and meeting with parents, teachers, principals and local education leaders. He released plans for a statewide network of principal preparation programs, a strategy to ensure every classroom has an effective teacher, and a plan to remove charter school restrictions and support the home school community.

During May, Haslam also announced plans around health care, agriculture, crime and public safety, tourism, seniors, children, veterans and rural economic development. He also in May released his Memphis Plan, a specific plan based on focused visits to the city to address the city’s challenges and take advantage of its unique opportunities.

“One of the things I wanted to do on this campaign was hear straight from the voters’ mouths what their concerns were, and I wanted to hear from Tennesseans from all walks of life: small business owners, seniors, educators, entrepreneurs, parents, medical professionals and others,” Haslam said. “I’m grateful to all those that shared their time and thoughts with me, and I look forward to continuing the discussion through Aug. 5 and hopefully beyond.”

“No other candidate in this race has had such a constant focus on churning out positive solutions for the challenges facing our state,” said Mark Cate, Campaign Manager. “Not only has Bill Haslam reached out to voters throughout this entire campaign to hear their concerns, he’s provided real solutions all along the way.”

“The choice should be clear to voters: Bill Haslam is the only candidate in the race who truly understands the issues important to Tennesseans and has the right plan to address these challenges and move our state forward,” Cate added. “He has the experience and temperament necessary to get the job done.”

The following numbers show Haslam’s efforts, travels and other campaign metrics indicating a candidate who was worked hard for the frontrunner status his opponents acknowledge.

Campaign Score Card

Total as of July 7

Counties Visited: All 95

County Visits: 1,239

Total Community Knocks: 138

Meet & Greets: 188

Speeches given: 469

Job Focused Events/ Roundtables: 76

Education Focused Events/ Roundtables: 39

Policy Proposals: 37

Press Events: 106

Miles Driven: 85,000+

Web/YouTube Videos Produced: 61

Leadership Team Mtg. 22

Press Releases

Candidates Gang Up on Haslam

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor; July 12, 2010:

Five of Six Candidate-to-Candidate Questions Directed at Bill Haslam

NASHVILLE – The three desperate candidates in tonight’s debate ganged up on Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, acknowledging his frontrunner status.

Five of six questions posed by Haslam’s opponents were directed at the Knoxville mayor. Haslam responded with specific answers to a number of specific questions, demonstrating the experience, leadership and temperament necessary in the next governor.

* Fiscal Responsibility: “It’s not three or four big cuts; it’s 1,000 little cuts. One of the areas I would focus on is how the state purchases things – procurement reform – as a potential area to save millions.”

* Immigration: “The federal government has failed to secure our borders. I would cut off the source of jobs for illegal immigrants, and I think you would see illegal immigrants return home.”

* Innovation in Public Education: “Let me make four specific points: 1) More rigor and demand. Increase expectations; 2) Every great institution has a great leader, so I would focus on making sure great principals are leading each school; 3) Make sure every classroom has a great teacher; and 4) We have great data in Tennessee, and I’ll make sure we use it to intervene before students call behind.”

* The Regional Medical Center in Memphis: “The Med matters not just to Memphis, but to the entire state. If you have a doctor that went to UT Health Science Center, chances are that he or she trained at the Med.”

* Collective Bargaining for Public Employees: “To have Washington tell us that we need to recognize unions is just wrong.”

* Death Penalty: “If a jury of peers convicts someone with the death penalty, I support that.”

“Crissy and I are looking forward to getting back out on the trail, and meeting with Tennesseans where they live, work and play everyday and listening and learning about their concerns,” Haslam said.

Recent polls, Reagan economist Dr. Art Laffer dubbing Bill Haslam the Reagan candidate and endorsements from the state’s three largest newspapers reflect a candidate who has worked hard to listen and learn from Tennesseans and set out a Jobs4TN plan addressing those chief concerns.

Mayor Haslam is the two-term Republican Mayor of Knoxville, reelected in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote. A hardworking, conservative public servant, Haslam led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, reducing the number of city employees to the lowest amount in 15 years and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years. An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees. For more information on Bill Haslam, please visit


CLAIM 1. Zach Wamp claimed Bill Haslam’s tenure as head of Saks Direct was a failure.

THE TRUTH 1. The aspect of the business Haslam was responsible for – the online division – was a resounding success. “Internet venture success for Pilot executive,” Knoxville News Sentinel, February 20, 2001.

CLAIM 2. Zach Wamp claimed he never said he wouldn’t go negative in this campaign.

THE TRUTH 2. Wamp was pressed repeatedly Thursday as to whether he might go negative on Haslam as voting nears. “I really believe I don’t need to do anything but what I’m doing,” Wamp said. “My momentum is really strong.” If that’s the case, Tennessee might actually go through a primary battle between three credible Republican candidates without any of the ugliness that can happen in a highly competitive race. “Wamp the optimist still at It,”, June 25, 2010.

CLAIM 3. Mike McWherter claimed that Tennessee suing the federal government over ObamaCare is no different than the federal government suing Arizona over their new immigration law.

THE TRUTH 3. A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that federal healthcare legislation passed earlier this year could cost Tennessee an additional $1.5 billion over five years. “Study estimates Tennessee would add nearly half million to TennCare,” Clarksville Leaf Chronicle, May 26, 2010.

CLAIM 4. Ron Ramsey claimed that Zach Wamp was one of seven people to vote for TARP.

THE TRUTH 4. Zach Wamp was one of 263 and the only Republican U.S. House Representative from Tennessee to vote for TARP. (HR 1424, Vote #681, October 3, 2008)

Business and Economy Education Featured News

McWherter: It’s All About Jobs

Democrat Mike McWherter officially launched his campaign to be Tennessee’s governor Thursday, and while he currently has no competition left in the Democratic primary, McWherter made it sound like he’s already running against Republican Bill Haslam.

McWherter said he does not know who his Republican opponent will be after the Aug. 5 primary, and said he has no preference, but he referred to Haslam’s television ads in his speech and acknowledged openly afterward that he was addressing those ads.

He focused on the claim in a television advertisement Haslam has run that says Haslam has helped create over 11,000 jobs in his business, Pilot Corp., the chain of travel centers owned by the Haslam family. Other Republican candidates for governor have criticized the ad as being misleading, and McWherter joined the chorus Thursday.

“I believe in truth in advertising,” McWherter said. “Even the other Republicans have been critical of Mayor Haslam’s ads about creating jobs that really were not created. They were bought. They weren’t all in Tennessee.

“I think that’s misleading. For somebody who has created jobs, and I understand how to create jobs, I want to make sure my message to Tennesseans is always truthful. That’s part of being in this campaign, is to hold everybody accountable, make sure they’re telling the truth.”

Haslam’s campaign was asked to respond to McWherter’s comments, and Haslam spokesman David Smith said in an e-mail, “That’s not worth a response.”

In his speech, McWherter referred to a candidate “juggling numbers” in television advertising.

“These are serious times, and these times require more from a candidate than simply juggling numbers on his TV ads to inflate his accomplishments,” McWherter said. “Tennesseans will see through those tricks, they’ll take the measure of the man, and they will say, ‘If he’s going to stretch the truth about jobs, then how can we trust him on this economy?'”

The criticism of Haslam’s ads has been that it is misleading to assert that the company created its large number of employees when the history of the company is that Pilot acquired established business interests as it grew.

McWherter, son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, owns a beer distributorship in Jackson and is chairman of the board of a Union City-based bank. His speech on the steps of the Capitol, after officially filing papers to run for governor, focused heavily on job creation, and he announced his intention of giving a tax break to businesses that create jobs.

McWherter said he would give tax breaks “to small businesses, to mom and pop operations, to the entrepreneurs, to the rural farm operations.

“It’s crystal clear, and it’s simple. If you create jobs in Tennessee, we’ll give you a tax break. We have to look after our own.”

When pressed on how he could offer a tax break given the state’s long run of declining revenues, McWherter said it would work economically.

“When you start putting people back to work, you’re making consumers,” he said. “We are a consumption-based economy. The more people we can get back to work, the more revenue we will have, and that revenue will pay for that tax break. I’m confident that those numbers will work.”

He said he was not ready to commit to a specific type of tax break but said, “I will definitely work on a tax break for small business out there, business that puts people to work.”

He said they would have to be businesses who can document that they were hiring people.

“It’s crystal clear, and it’s simple,” he said in his speech. “If you create jobs in Tennessee, we’ll give you a tax break. We have to look after our own.”

McWherter referred to the large economic boosts the state has received in recent years, such as the new Volkswagen plant, bringing in investments of up to $1 billion.

“It’s good to get international companies to locate here in Tennessee and put Tennesseans to work and we need to do more of that,” he said. “But we must make sure Tennessee-based businesses are the ones growing and supplying these major industries.

“It’s not enough for a Tennessean to be unloading a truck full of supplies at a factory gate. Those suppliers need to be Tennessee-based businesses, and those need to be Tennessee jobs.”

Following the speech, McWherter pointed to the stark contrast between when times are good economically and when they’re not in the state, and he used that to make the case for a tax break.

“Three years ago, we had pretty much full employment here in the state,” he said. “At that time, our revenue was so large, the legislature appropriated monies for all the state representatives and state senators to take back to their districts. We were running that kind of surplus.

“I don’t mean to say giving away, but providing help for local fire stations and places like that. If we get people back to work, we will have revenue to sustain that kind of tax break.”

McWherter said he did not have a timetable for when his own television ads might appear.

“I have not got a plan for putting ads on TV yet,” he said. “I imagine I will probably go on air certainly the week after the primary, once we know who the Republican nominee is. But I might go on before then, just depending on what our strategy is.”

McWherter was speaking one day after his last remaining primary opponent, Kim McMillan, dropped out of the race. McMillan announced on Wednesday that instead of continuing her bid for governor she would run for mayor of Clarksville instead.

McWherter had been considered the Democratic front-runner by many observers almost since he said he was in the race. Gradually, candidates in what once was a crowded field began to drop out. Nashville businessman Ward Cammack, then state Sen. Roy Herron, then state Sen. Jim Kyle all left the race, and McMillan’s departure Wednesday put McWherter in position to focus solely on the Republican field. The general election, when nominees from the Republican and Democratic parties square off, is Nov. 2.

The Republican field includes Knoxville Mayor Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey of Blountville and Congressman Zach Wamp of Chattanooga.

Press Releases

Haslam Announces ‘Business Leaders For Haslam’ Coalition

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, March 18, 2010:

Business leaders from across the state come together to back Knoxville Mayor’s gubernatorial run

KNOXVILLE – More than 200 business leaders from across Tennessee joined together today to endorse Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam because they believe he has the proven executive experience and conservative fiscal leadership needed at this critical time.

“Bill Haslam is the only candidate in this race who has helped create thousands of jobs. First he grew and expanded the family business as President of Pilot Travel Centers, and then he recruited new jobs to Knoxville as Mayor. He understands how jobs are created,” said Allen Morgan of Memphis. “While other candidates are more concerned about gimmicks and concerts, Bill is focused on a three-week jobs tour. Tennesseans concerned about maintaining and recruiting jobs should enthusiastically support Mayor Haslam. I do.”

The announcement of “Business Leaders for Haslam” came during the second week of Haslam’s three-week Jobs Tour, and the coalition is a clear indication business leaders statewide know the two-term Mayor of Knoxville, who was reelected in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote, is the only candidate with proven experience at promoting business and growing and retaining jobs.

Republican candidates for governor say the first issue they hear about on the campaign trail is jobs, but Mayor Haslam is the only candidate making the focused effort to listen to small business owners and economic development leaders across the state and to share ideas about how to retain and grow good, well-paying jobs here in Tennessee.

Many Tennesseans also are concerned about the budget shortfalls that await the next governor and believe Bill Haslam is best suited to deal with those issues. “I have been impressed with Mayor Haslam’s stewardship of Knoxville. And he’s the only candidate in this race who has had to create and implement a budget, the same way he’ll have to do as governor,” said Newt Raff of Johnson City. “He’s the only candidate with that critical experience.”

Others are focused on the leadership qualities necessary to be governor. “Bill Haslam has the executive temperament to lead our state. We need a governor with a calm confidence and business experience, who understands the big issues facing Tennessee, and who knows when to listen and when to lead – that’s Bill Haslam,” commented Joe Decosimo of Chattanooga.

Still others focused on the importance of education to attracting and maintaining good jobs. “Improving our public education system is critically important to our long-term economic security,” said Tom Cigarran of Nashville. “Bill Haslam understands that education is key to attracting and maintaining good jobs.”

“Bill Haslam provides Tennesseans incredibly successful business and civic credentials wrapped around a genuine care for every single citizen in our state. That’s an absolute fact,” added Kitty Moon Emery of Nashville. “I feel strongly we’re at the right time with a perfect leader to successfully tackle the challenges ahead.”

“Crissy and I are incredibly grateful for the support we’ve received over the last 14 months,” Haslam said. “It’s support like this – for our plans such as creating jobs base camps and leveraging unique regional assets to create specific development strategies – that affirms we’re doing this for the right reasons: to strengthen our state and get Tennesseans working again.”

“Tennessee’s strength is in its communities, and we have a lot to sell here: no income tax, right to work, incredible natural beauty and a strong work ethic,” Haslam continued. “With the backing of these business leaders who contribute jobs and stability to our local economies, we can work to ensure that Tennessee becomes the No. 1 location in the Southeast for stable, well-paying jobs.”

A hardworking, conservative public servant, Haslam led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in more than 50 years. An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees. His combination of executive and public service experience makes him uniquely qualified to be Tennessee’s next Governor.

Bill and Crissy Haslam have two daughters, Annie and Leigh, and a son, Will, who resides in Knoxville with his wife, Hannah.

For more information on Bill Haslam’s Jobs Tour, please visit, and for information on Bill and his campaign, please visit

Business Leaders for Haslam Coalition

· Matt Alexander, Blount County

· Chris Allison, Madison County

· David Amonette, Sumner County

· Charlie Anderson, Jr., Knox County

· Leo Arnold, Dyer County

· Max Arnold, Carroll County

· Sammie Arnold, Madison County

· Tonya Arnold, Dyer County

· Billy Atkins, Montgomery County

· Adrian Bailey, Knox County

· Sharon Bailey, Knox County

· Marvin Baker, Smith County

· Lee Barfield, Davidson County

· Pete Barile, Hamblen County

· Jim Barrier, Maury County

· Steve Bates, Lewis County

· Sandy Beall, Knox County

· Keith Bell, Sumner County

· Gary Binkley, Cheatham County

· Jim Blalock, Sevier County

· Sid Blalock, Knox County

· Everett Bolin, Jr., Cumberland County

· Randal Boston, Cumberland County

· Keith Bowers, Sr., Carter County

· Chip Boyd, Washington County

· Randy Boyd, Knox County

· David Bradshaw, Anderson County

· Starr Bragg, Blount County

· Jim Bush, Knox County

· Harry Call, Knox County

· Donnie Cameron, Williamson County

· Mike Campbell, Knox County

· Steven Cannon, Williamson County

· Bob Card, Bradley County

· Herman Carrick, Sullivan County

· Bill Carroll, Sevier County

· Billy Carroll, Sevier County

· Rob Carter, Shelby County

· Steve Cates, Williamson County

· Matt Chambers, Knox County

· Charlie Chandler, Dyer County

· Brandon Cherry, Smith County

· Tom Cigarran, Davidson County

· Pete Claussen, Knox County

· Kevin Clayton, Blount County

· Robert Clear, Campbell County

· Noble Cody, Putnam County

· Scott Collins, Hancock County

· Evan Cope, Rutherford County

· Howard Cotter, Marion County

· Dan Crockett, Davidson County

· Ricky Crook, Hamilton County

· Milton Curtis, Sumner County

· Joe Davenport, Hamilton County

· Ron DeBerry, Sumner County

· Fred Decosimo, Hamilton County

· Joe Decosimo, Hamilton County

· William DeLay, Davidson County

· Michael Dumond, Perry County

· Harvey Durham, McNairy County

· Jonathan Edwards, Lawrence County

· Paul Ellis, Montgomery County

· Danny England, Claiborne County

· David England, Dickson County

· Tom Flynn, Cumberland County

· Darrell Freeman, Davidson County

· Bud Fultz, Rutherford County

· Sam Furrow, Knox County

· Buddy Gambill, Rutherford County

· Bill Giannini, Shelby County

· Mike Gibbs, Cheatham County

· Randy Gibson, Knox County

· Trow Gillespie, Shelby County

· Leigh Gillig, Williamson County

· Ann Gillis, Smith County

· Bill Greene, Carter County

· Gay Gregson, Madison County

· Hoy Grimm, Blount County

· Bill Hagerty, Davidson County

· John Haines, Cheatham County

· Danny Hale, Sumner County

· Jim Hamilton, Dyer County

· Mike Harris, Dyer County

· Melinda Headrick, Blount County

· Tom Hendricks, McNairy County

· Dean Higby, Rutherford County

· Randy Hodges, Knox County

· Randy Hoffman, Sumner County

· Tony Hollin, Knox County

· Tom Hooper, Haywood County

· Tom Hughes, McMinn County

· Glen Hutchinson, Rutherford County

· Orrin Ingram, Davidson County

· Jack Jarvis, Sullivan County

· Lance Jenkins, Bedford County

· Alex Johnson, Sevier County

· Greg Jones, Bedford County

· Bryan Jordan, Shelby County

· Raja Jubran, Knox County

· Bland Justis, Greene County

· Doug Kennedy, Knox County

· Bob Kenworthy, Henry County

· Chris Kinney, Knox County

· Angie Kirby, Blount County

· Maribel Koella, Knox County

· Wayne Kreis, Morgan County

· Eric Lambert, Sevier County

· Steve Land, Knox County

· Greer Lashlee, Gibson County

· T.O. Lashlee, Gibson County

· Rodney Lawler, Knox County

· Fred Lawson, Blount County

· Gigi Lazenby, Davidson County

· Ted Lazenby, Davidson County

· Bill Lee, Williamson County

· Terry Leonard, Greene County

· Buddy Liner, McMinn County

· Mike Magill, Anderson County

· Boyce Magli, Williamson County

· Brad Martin, Shelby County

· Larry Masters, Jefferson County

· Fiona McAnally, Knox County

· Rob McCabe, Davidson County

· Dale McCulloch, Wilson County

· Mike McGuffin, Davidson County

· Stuart McWhorter, Davidson County

· Tommy Mitchell, Houston County

· Jeff Monson, Sevier County

· Kitty Moon Emery, Davidson County

· Danny Moore, Crockett County

· Lewis Moorer, Jr., Davidson County

· Mike Mortimer, Lewis County

· Cynthia Moxley, Knox County

· Doug Muech, Henry County

· Lyle Mullins, Hancock County

· Bill Newsom, Dyer County

· Scott Niswonger, Greene County

· Jerry O’Connor, Unicoi County

· Linda Ogle, Sevier County

· Joe Orgill, Shelby County

· Kevin Painter, Blount County

· Greg Petty, Dyer County

· Teddy Phillips, Jr., Knox County

· Victor Pike, Dyer County

· Johnny Pitts, Shelby County

· John Pontius, Shelby County

· Aubrey Preston, Williamson County

· Ben Probasco, Hamilton County

· Scotty Probasco, Hamilton County

· Sharon Pryse, Knox County

· Newt Raff, Washington County

· Brian Ragan, Dickson County

· Carroll Richardson, Sullivan County

· Don Ridley, Hawkins County

· Matt Riggsbee, Crockett County

· Jerry Riley, Sr., Crockett County

· Jerry Riley, Jr., Crockett County

· Joe Riley, McMinn County

· John Roberts, Coffee County

· Kenneth Roberts, Robertson County

· Richard Roberts, Greene County

· Don Rogers, Hamblen County

· Paul Rose, Tipton County

· John Ross, Gibson County

· Bill Sansom, Knox County

· Ricky Sanders, Crockett County

· John Santi, Shelby County

· Nate Schott, Rutherford County

· Brenda Sellers, Blount County

· Jerry Sharber, Williamson County

· Richard Sheperd, Blount County

· Susan Simons, Davidson County

· Bill Sinks, Sumner County

· Jerry Smith, McMinn County

· Reese Smith, Williamson County

· Steve Smith, Williamson County

· Tom Smith, Davidson County

· Pete Sommer, Lewis County

· Jerry Stanley, Lauderdale County

· Roger Staton, Madison County

· Doug Stephenson, Madison County

· Nick Stewart, Montgomery County

· Clayton Stout, Washington County

· Wes Stowers, Jr., Knox County

· Michael Strickland, Knox County

· Leroy Thompson, Knox County

· David Verble, Sevier County

· Jim Vines, Jefferson County

· Howard Wall, Rutherford County

· Harry Wampler, Loudon County

· Ron Watkins, Knox County

· John Weathers, Hamilton County

· Ted Welch, Davidson County

· Charles West, Blount County

· Andy White, Blount County

· Kahren White, Blount County

· Ken White, Monroe County

· Tommy Whittaker, Sumner County

· Ted Williams, Dickson County

· Chad Wood, Henderson County

· Shirley Woodcock, McMinn County

· Eleanor Yoakum, Claiborne County

· Kenny Young, Williamson County

Press Releases

Haslam Announces Small Business Initiative: Small Business Works

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, March 17, 2010:

Identifies Small Businesses as the Driving Force for Tennessee’s Economy

JACKSON – Republican gubernatorial candidate Mayor Bill Haslam announced during a Jobs Tour meeting today with local small business owners a plan to focus on small business growth as a key component of his effort to make Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs.

As governor, Haslam will launch Small Business Works, an initiative to promote entrepreneurship and job growth by working with small business owners to create the best possible environment for starting or growing a business while enhancing the state’s efforts to provide useful, timely information and guidance to anyone seeking to start a business in Tennessee.

“I will have no higher priority as your governor than fostering the creation of high quality jobs in our state,” Haslam said. “The reality is two-thirds of the new jobs in this country are created by small businesses. If we want our state to be a leader in job creation, we need to embrace and cultivate small business ownership.

“From the beginning of this campaign, we’ve been meeting with small business owners, hearing their concerns, and discussing what the state could be doing better to help small businesses create jobs. As governor, listening to and addressing the needs of small business will be a key part of our economic development efforts.”

Mayor Haslam is spending Week Two of his three-week, statewide Jobs Tour in West Tennessee, and today is being spent in Jackson, Trenton, Humboldt, and Bells leading small business roundtables, touring local businesses, and meeting with economic development professionals.

“What I hear all the time, and especially on this Jobs Tour, is that government shouldn’t be a hindrance. It can’t over regulate and taxes must be kept low,” Haslam continued. “The state should make sure the necessary information and resources for starting a business are readily available, and it should provide high quality customer service to anyone who has questions or needs help with the process.”

The Small Business Works campaign will include a number of new initiatives and enhanced efforts to support small businesses, which will be rolled out over the coming weeks and months. The goal is to make sure there is no better place in the country to start or grow a business than Tennessee.

“There are many great reasons to do business in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “We have no state income tax, each region has unique assets on which we can build, and our beautiful landscape provides a high quality of life for Tennesseans. We’re also a right-to-work state, and our labor force is made up of honest, hard-working individuals,” Haslam continued. “But the fact of the matter is the next governor will have to be aggressive in the effort to create jobs. This will require a laser-like focus on the needs of small business.”

”The current administration has done a good job hitting home runs by bringing in large investments like Hemlock, Volkswagen, and Wacker,” Haslam continued. “But if we truly want to be a leader in job creation, we’ve got to focus on the singles, doubles, and triples that homegrown small businesses create for us as well.”

Bill Haslam is the two-term Mayor of Knoxville, re-elected in 2007 with 87% of the vote. A hardworking, conservative public servant, he led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years. An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees. His combination of executive and public service experience makes him uniquely qualified to be Tennessee’s next Governor. Bill is the right person at the right time to lead Tennessee.

Bill and Crissy Haslam have two daughters, Annie and Leigh, and a son, Will, who resides in Knoxville with his wife, Hannah.

For more information on Bill Haslam, please visit To follow Mayor Haslam on his Jobs Tour and submit ideas for how to grow our state’s economy, please visit