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Maggart ‘Maligned Unfairly’: Ramsey

The House GOP Caucus chairwoman insists she’s in little trouble of being voted out of office, but she now has both the governor and the Senate speaker running to her defense.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said he is joining the crowd of high-ranking Republicans to back the embattled Rep. Debra Maggart, who has become a political target among some Tea Party groups and the Tennessee Firearms Association.

“I do think she’s been maligned unfairly,” Ramsey told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday, adding he plans to attend her campaign events.

Maggart is facing off against Courtney Rogers, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel. Rogers is backed by conservatives who blame Maggart for the failure of several key pieces of legislation, including a measure that would have allowed gun owners to stow their firearms in their car parked on employers property.

Gov. Bill Haslam is supporting Maggart, saying she’s taking “a lot of unmerited heat” for the so-called “guns in parking lots” issue which has set staunch gun-rights supporters against businesses owners and corporate executives who argue that their property rights trump the Second Amendment.

“It may have made me an easier target,” said Maggart, “but I can tell you that people appreciate it when you stand up and do the right thing. I’ve had just a great response from the people in my district. They’re proud of me and they’re proud of the things I have done.”

Ramsey said he also plans to support Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, in the primary election race against fellow Republican Scott Hughes of Seymour who is CEO of Fuse Church in Knoxville.

The lieutenant governor said he expects Tennessee voters to shrink the the 33-member Senate’s Democrat representation from 13 seats to eight.