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Press Releases

Haslam Heads To Memphis For ‘Extended Focus Visit’

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor; May 4, 2010:

Will Develop Memphis-Specific Strategy to Address the City’s Unique Challenges, Opportunities

KNOXVILLE – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam today announced details of his Memphis Focus visit — three full days over the next two weeks working with local and community leaders to develop a specific strategy for state government to help the city build on its strengths and address the unique challenges it faces.

This week Mayor Haslam will meet with key industry, education and community leaders in Memphis, tour local schools, visit the Med, open the campaign’s Memphis headquarters, hold a special event with the Hon. Howard H. Baker, Jr., and knock on doors to continue introducing himself to Memphians.

Mayor Haslam announced plans to create a Memphis strategy during his statewide Jobs Tour in March, and he will hold key meetings in Memphis this week and next to learn more about what state government can do to help the city in areas including education, health care, economic development, and public safety.

“Every city and region in the state has its own unique strengths and challenges,” Haslam said. “There’s nowhere that this is truer than Memphis, and the next governor must not let the state capitol become insular or try to address issues across the state uniformly.

“Twenty-nine years ago I married my wife Crissy, a native Memphian,” Haslam said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Memphis over the years, and not only is the health and vibrancy of Memphis of personal importance to me and my family, I recognize how critical it is to the success of the entire state.

“Historically, culturally, and economically Memphis is critically important to Tennessee, and that’s why I will continue to hone in on Memphis issues as a candidate and later, hopefully, as governor,” Haslam continued.

After attending the Strawberry Festival in Humboldt on Friday, Mayor Haslam will return to Memphis next Thursday the 13th for key meetings around public safety with Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, Sheriff Mark Luttrell, and local police chiefs. Mayor Haslam’s schedule for this week is listed below.

“Memphis has created momentum that the next governor must help the city capitalize on,” Haslam continued. “From the Gates Foundation’s recent $90 million investment and ongoing partnership with Memphis City Schools and the resounding success of the local Teach For America chapter, to the impressive work of General Gibbons and Sheriff Luttrell in addressing violent crime, many great things are happening. Between the opportunities being created right now and significant existing assets including FedEx and the medical device industry, I believe there is much to build on in Memphis,” said Haslam. “However, it’s going to take the right strategy in order to address the city’s unique challenges and effectively capitalize on its strengths, and I am committed to working with local officials to develop a specific strategy to help Memphis do just that.”

Since announcing his run for governor in January of 2009, Mayor Haslam has spent 28 days in Shelby County and conducted nearly 100 meetings and events with community leaders and residents.

“Bill didn’t just decide Memphis mattered when it became politically expedient,” said Campaign Manager Mark Cate. “The success of the city has been of personal importance to him for a long time, and he has devoted a significant amount of time to Memphis issues over the course of this campaign. He understands it is vital to the success of this state, and with his experience as Mayor of Knoxville, he’s the best prepared to help the city address its unique local issues.”

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.

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 www.BillHaslam.com.

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Press Releases

Top Gibbons Supporters Shifting To Wamp Campaign In West Tennessee

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; April 21, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for Governor, today announced that key players from Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons’ gubernatorial campaign in West Tennessee have signed on to support Wamp in his bid for governor.

Kim Perry of Collierville, who served as Shelby County chairman for General Gibbons, will serve as the Wamp campaign’s new full-time Shelby County Coordinator.

Nancy Strawn of Jackson, who served as the Gibbons chairman in Madison County, will serve as Wamp’s new 8th congressional district chair for his gubernatorial campaign.

Jenci Spradlin, a well-known Republican activist and blogger in Jackson, who has more than 4,600 followers on Twitter and who previously supported General Gibbons for governor, has also signed on to the Wamp campaign team.

“I am honored and excited to have Kim Perry, Nancy Strawn, Jenci Spradlin and so many others in West Tennessee who previously supported my good friend Bill Gibbons come on board our growing campaign. No one is working harder to earn the support of Bill Gibbons and his many supporters all across our state, and I am proud to have these outstanding leaders join our team.” Wamp said.

“West Tennessee is a big focus for me because Memphis matters, and what is good for Memphis is always good for Tennessee. As Governor, growing jobs and greater economic success in Shelby and Madison counties, the Haywood Megasite and all of West Tennessee will be a top priority.”

Wamp added that more top Gibbons leaders from other areas of the state who have now signed on to support the Wamp campaign would be announced soon.

Kim Perry is an experienced and well-connected political and community leader in Memphis. In addition to chairing General Gibbons’ campaign in Shelby County, Perry led the grassroots efforts for Shelby County’s McCain/Palin team in 2008 and currently serves as Vice-Treasurer of the Shelby County Republican Party Steering Committee.

Perry also serves as President of the Collierville Republican Club and Secretary of both the Lunch Hour Republican Club and the Republican Women of Purpose. She is an active member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church and serves on the Collierville Arts Council and the Board of Directors for the Memphis Youth Symphony. Perry lives in Collierville with her husband, David, and her two children.

Nancy Strawn of Jackson previously served as General Gibbons’ Madison County campaign chairman, a position she also held with Bob Corker’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2006. Strawn currently serves as a member of the Tennessee Republican Party’s state executive committee and is a longtime grassroots activist who’s been involved in every Tennessee and national GOP campaign since 1964.

Jenci Spradlin is a small business owner, active blogger and grassroots activist from Jackson who’s also a prolific writer and political commentator on West Tennessee issues. You can find Jenci on Twitter as @JenciTN, where she has accumulated more than 4,600 followers. In fact, she has more followers on Twitter than any of the three Republican candidates for governor.

For more information about Zach Wamp and his campaign for governor, please visit the campaign online at www.ZachWamp.com.

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Press Releases

Wamp Talks Crime Prevention With Gibbons In Memphis

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor, April 11, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for governor, met this morning in Memphis with former Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons for an in-depth briefing on crime prevention and criminal justice issues. Gibbons also took Wamp on a tour of the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center where they were joined by Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell, Jr.

Following their meeting this morning, General Gibbons spoke with reporters about his briefings with Wamp, including a discussion of specific challenges facing the people of Shelby County and many of the crime prevention programs now in use there.

“First of all, I want to thank Congressman Wamp for taking the time to come to 201 Poplar this morning. Sheriff Luttrell and I had an opportunity to brief him on many of the challenges that we are facing, along with Director Godwin and those who work with us at this building, as well as brief him on a number of things we’re trying to do to move us in the right direction,” said Gibbons.

“We talked a little bit this morning about our Operation Safe Community plan, which is a plan, a very specific plan, to move our community in the right direction on the issue of crime,” Gibbons said. “We need a governor in this state who takes the issue of public safety seriously and who goes to work every day with a lot of energy and passion determined to do something about it.”

Wamp pledged during his stop that as governor the City of Memphis, Shelby County, and public safety issues across the state would be a top priority for him from day one.

“I’ve made safe communities and security in our state a defining part of my 20/20 Vision for an Even Better Tennessee, and today I saw first-hand here in Memphis from my good friend Bill Gibbons and others about what we’re doing right and some of the tough challenges that still remain,” Wamp said.

Wamp was in Memphis today as part of a West Tennessee campaign swing that began Sunday with stops in nearby Haywood and Madison counties. Wamp will also meet with regional Chamber and business leaders for a discussion on new job creation and economic development while in Shelby County.

“Memphis matters to me. It matters to the future of Tennessee. The success of Shelby County should be important to every citizen in our state,” Wamp said. “Just because I didn’t grow up in Memphis doesn’t mean I won’t be committed to Memphis. In fact, because I am not from here, one of the areas I will devote the most time and energy to as governor will be Shelby County.”

During the visit with Gibbons, Wamp pledged to continue his long-standing work with law enforcement to help combat methamphetamine production across Tennessee. He also made clear his strong support for and advocacy of drug courts and alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders as a way to help free up more jail and prison space across the state to keep violent repeat criminal offenders locked up and off our streets.

For more information about Zach Wamp and his campaign for governor, please visit the campaign online at www.ZachWamp.com.

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Press Releases

Haslam Wants To Focus On Memphis After Gibbons’ Exit

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, March 29, 2010:

Announces dates for Memphis focused visit

KNOXVILLE – With the culmination of his Jobs Tour, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam today reiterated his commitment to work with Memphis leaders to develop a specific strategy for the city and expanded on his previous comments praising Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons’ candidacy for governor.

“Bill Gibbons’ dedication to Memphis and its communities cannot be overvalued, and with Gen. Gibbons’ withdrawal from the race, the city lost a candidate with a close connection to the city and who has already worked tirelessly to help Memphis reach its extraordinary potential,” Haslam said.

“General Gibbons’ commitment to public safety and education on the campaign trail was a message that caught all of our attention because of the earnestness with which he advocated his viewpoints,” said Haslam. “He is a true public servant with his city’s best interests at heart.

“Since the start of my campaign, my wife Crissy – a native Memphian – and I have spent a total of 25 days on trail in Shelby County, including a recent stop as part of our three-week Jobs Tour,” Haslam continued. “Throughout the course of the more than 80 meetings or events we’ve held in Memphis during this campaign, it’s become more apparent than ever that the city really and truly is unique, with its own strengths and challenges.”

During the Jobs Tour stop there, Mayor Haslam announced that he would return to Memphis in the coming months for a three-day focused visit to meet with local government and community leaders and to begin forming a Memphis-specific strategy for state government around what it can do to help in areas such as education, health, economic development and public safety.

Mayor Haslam’s three-straight-day Memphis focused visit will take place May 5, 6 and 7.

“Memphis is critically important to Tennessee historically, culturally and economically, and as governor I won’t let the state capital become insular and forget about our important city and region to the West,” Haslam said.

“Nobody in this race is going to replace Gen. Gibbons’ relationship with Memphis, but what I can offer is experience leading a city through tough times, a familiarity with and personal connection to Memphis, a unique combination of public and private sector executive experience, and a commitment to helping Memphis build on its strengths and overcome its challenges,” Haslam said.

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 www.BillHaslam.com.

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News Transparency and Elections

Gibbons: I Didn’t Have Enough Money

Officially bowing out of the GOP race for governor, Bill Gibbons said he never really had enough campaign cash to make a solid run at the Republican nomination.

Citing the lack of funds as his “only reason” for dropping out of the race, Gibbons said he probably lost his bid within the first 60 days of his candidacy.

“We were really behind the curve from day one,” said Gibbons in a Downtown Nashville press conference Friday. “To some degree, maybe we lost this campaign in the first 60 days because we were just not ready to hit the ground running on that fund raising.”

Gibbons was one of four remaining candidates running in the Republican primary election slated for Aug. 5. His fund raising was well behind those of his opponents, especially Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam’s, whose personal wealth from the Pilot Oil family business was a constant target of criticism from the Shelby County prosecutor. Haslam had $4.2 million in the bank as of March 22.

As of Feb. 25, Gibbons had $245,562.64 in his campaign fund.

Gibbons said he lacked a statewide fund raising network. While his roots, name recognition and support was strong down in Memphis, he said, he struggled to drum up support in the rest of the state.

Gibbons added that he does not foresee running again for governor. Were he to do it all over again, Gibbons said he would have begun raising money about a year before announcing he was officially seeking the seat.

Now that Gibbons is officially out of the race, there are no remaining gubernatorial candidates from the Memphis area. Sen. Jim Kyle, a Memphis Democrat who serves as the party’s leader in the Senate, dropped out last month.

Gibbons said he wasn’t sure if he would endorse any of his former gubernatorial opponents.

Andrea Zelinski can be reached at andreazelinski@tnreport.com.

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Press Releases

Haslam Statement on Gibbons Leaving Guv’s Race

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, March 26, 2010:

KNOXVILLE – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam released the following statement on Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons’ announcement that he will not continue his run for governor:

“Bill Gibbons is a highly respected public servant who has been an important candidate in the campaign for governor. His passion for Memphis and issues surrounding public safety and crime has added much to the campaign conversation and discussion. I appreciate his candidacy and I look forward to his continued leadership in West Tennessee and across the state.”

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 www.BillHaslam.com.

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Press Releases

Official Statement: Gibbons Drops Out Of Guv’s Race

Press Release from Bill Gibbons for Governor, March 26, 2010:

Today, I am withdrawing from the race for governor for one reason and one reason only, and that is lack of sufficient campaign funds to go forward.

For over a year, we have had a specific campaign plan which called for a budget of $2.5 million – substantially less than what one other campaign will spend and at least slightly less than what two others will probably spend. Our initial goal was to have at least $1.0 million of that by the end of 2009. We fell significantly short of that goal. We then set a goal of having at least $1 million by April 1 of this year. It is obvious at this point that we will not achieve that. Our balance on hand has gone down rather than up since our last disclosure in early February. We have no reasonable prospect of paying for any media campaign, a necessity for success in this race.

I had hoped to achieve our financial needs by convincing enough people that this campaign was an opportunity to invest in a movement to tackle the big challenges our state faces of reducing our crime rate, improving our schools, and creating a better climate for more good paying jobs. Those are challenges that are especially critical to my home community of Memphis. My primary responsibility was to successfully convince enough people to make that investment. To the extent we failed, it was my failure.

Since State Senator Jim Kyle and I have both withdrawn from the race, we have no candidate from my own community of Memphis and Shelby County or who understands personally its unique needs and opportunities. We have crime driven by gang activity and drug trafficking which cries out for changes in our state sentencing laws. We have one of the largest urban school systems in the nation with the urgent need for reform. The University of Memphis is a unique urban research university which is being overlooked by state government and deserves its own independent governing board. And state government needs to end its neglect of the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences and The MED. I hope the other candidates of both parties will work to learn more about the community I love.

I thank the hundreds of people who did join me in this effort. Many are old friends. Others are new friends I made during the course of the campaign. I will be forever indebted to their support and friendship.

Although raising money has proved most difficult, an extremely heartening aspect of this experience has been the willingness of people across the state who care about its future to give their support and their time to my candidacy. They have reinforced my own faith in the political process.

I commend the campaign staff. I could not have asked for a more talented group of individuals. And I thank my family for their support and tolerance of the many hours I spent on the campaign trail. Frankly, one plus to ending the campaign is that I will be able to spend more time with my wife Julia who has been unable to participate because she is a federal judge.

I’m looking forward to continuing my service as district attorney in Shelby County, our state’s largest jurisdiction. I’m honored to serve with many dedicated public servants. I’ll go to work every day determined to make my community an even better place in which to live. And I will continue to push aggressively for needed changes at the state level in our criminal justice system.

A statewide campaign in Tennessee is not for the faint-hearted. It is both physically and emotionally demanding. I wish the other candidates of both parties well in the coming months. I urge them to focus on the real challenges our state faces and to be bold in proposing ways to meet those challenges.

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Press Releases

Statement By Wamp on Gibbons’ Withdrawl From Guv’s Race

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor, March 26, 2010:

“Bill Gibbons is as an outstanding leader, and he has become a very good friend over the course of this campaign. I have always found Bill to be a tough, but very friendly and fair competitor, who has always been sincere and committed in his efforts to find real solutions to the real problems facing the people of our great state.

And like me, Bill has always had the guts, strength and conviction to stand up to the big money and the special interests and to just tell it like it is. So while Bill will be missed out on the campaign trail – his ideas and his leadership will continue. And I intend to work extra hard to earn both Bill’s support and that of his many supporters as we work together now to create an even better Tennessee.”

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News

Guv Candidates Agree Housing Issues Need Attention

Five of the six major candidates for Tennessee governor appeared at a forum on housing Tuesday in Williamson County, each making the case for how their candidacy connects with housing issues in the state.

And the most common refrain was that creating jobs can solve problems in housing.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, an auctioneer, explained that his experience related to the real estate market and housing goes way back. He learned about construction and worked in the homebuilding industry, he said. His business background in surveying and auctions put him in position to understand housing issues.

“I’ve been around the housing industry all my life,” Ramsey said. “I believe we’re on the cusp of that shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan talked about. I believe in Tennessee we can be an island of sanity in a nation gone amok.

“There will be states nobody wants to be living in. We need to be a state where people will want to bring jobs and bring their families. I understand completely you are the force that drives our economy, and I’ll be very supportive of your industry.”

Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons said he knew what it was like to lose a home from his childhood, when his father left the family. He also noted that his father became homeless, and he sees how many factors are involved in housing issues.

Homelessness, Gibbons pointed out, can be the result of mental illness.

“The largest mental health institution in my community today is the Shelby County jail,” he said.

Gibbons said there were good intentions in trying to deinstitutionalize people who had mental illness, but that there wasn’t enough follow-through to provide community support to make that policy work.

Gibbons said the key on housing is to have good-paying jobs and safe neighborhoods. He emphasized his job as a prosecutor in fighting crime, which is important to stable housing, he said.

Congressman Zach Wamp, who had to leave the forum halfway through to go back to Washington, explained he worked in the commercial real estate sector.

“I know your industry,” he said. “I loved it. I was the first to get there in the morning and the last to leave.”

Wamp said new investments are going to come south and that the state needs a dynamic governor to help make that happen. Wamp, too, pointed to the link between mental illness and homelessness from his experience in working on a subcommittee in Congress that deals with veterans.

Democrat Mike McWherter, a Jackson businessman, said that when he says he has traveled to all 95 counties, it doesn’t mean just going to lunch with four or five people.

“You have to understand what the infrastructure is and what the assets are,” McWherter said. “We need a governor who will focus on the retention of jobs. The bottom line is we need jobs.”

The candidates expressed their support for the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, established in 1973 to support the production of affordable housing.

They also expressed support for regional mass transit. But as in other areas, candidates quickly added that the next governor has to be careful about making promises that can’t be kept due to severe budget restraints.

Democrat Kim McMillan said the state needs to be smart on how it goes about mass transit.

“Sometimes we veer off course without the proper planning,” she said. “This is a reason why our roads system is recognized so well. Planning is what made our road system what it is today.”

The one major candidate who did not appear was Republican Bill Haslam, mayor of Knoxville. But Mike McGuffin, managing director of the retail division of Eakin Partners Commercial Real Estate, spoke on Haslam’s behalf.

Much of the forum’s discussion was about foreclosures, which were the first domino to fall leading to the credit crisis that drove the nation into recession.

“We need foreclosure counseling,” McMillan said. “When you actually educate people on how to buy a home, to service a mortgage, it makes a difference in their ability to stay away from foreclosure.”

“Let’s be honest. We knew this couldn’t last,” Ramsey said of practices that were going on that led to foreclosures.

He recalled how people used to have to verify they were making enough money to afford the homes they bought.

“It was lax regulation, and it was speculation that got us to this point,” he said, in a comment that drew some applause in agreement.

“That doesn’t deserve a clap,” he said. “It deserves a boo.”

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Press Releases

Gibbons Tours Youth Villages, Pledges To Reduce Juvenile Crime

Press Release from Bill Gibbons for Governor, March 22, 2010:

Bartlett, TN – Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons continues to make fighting crime a top priority, not only in his job at the D.A.’s office, but also as he gains momentum in his run for governor of Tennessee. General Gibbons today toured Youth Villages in Bartlett, a residential facility that offers mental health treatment for boys and girls.

“Most of the children who live at Youth Villages or participate in the programs are children who have also been part of the juvenile justice system. I wanted to see for myself how these treatment centers operate to better grasp the underlying problems of juvenile crime, and in turn, the best ways to fight it,” Gibbons said. “I was impressed with Youth Villages facilities and the staffs’ dedication to these troubled children,” he added.

While overall crime in many communities, including Shelby County, has gone down in recent years, juvenile crime remains a growing problem.

“Many of these children spend their whole lives shuffled through the juvenile justice system, rather than being in school and leading productive lives. As D.A., I’ve already cracked down on parents whose children are perpetually truant and helped match troubled children with caring mentors, but I think we have a long way to go. As governor, I want to move forward with new programs and ideas, instead of tying up kids in bureaucratic red tape,” Gibbons said.

Bill Gibbons, a Republican, is the Shelby County District Attorney General, serving as the top state law enforcement official in Tennessee’s largest jurisdiction. He entered the governor’s race on January 4, 2009. For more information on Bill Gibbons, visit his campaign website at www.Gibbons2010.com.