Press Releases

Haslam Wants To Pair Up Students, Businesses

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, March 24, 2010:

Will Work With Businesses, Postsecondary Institutions to Train Workers, Meet Workforce Needs

CHATTANOOGA – Speaking with business leaders, higher education officials, and economic development professionals during a key stop on his statewide Jobs Tour, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam announced today a plan to help foster workforce development partnerships between Tennessee businesses and postsecondary institutions.

As governor, Mayor Haslam will work to create seamless transitions between postsecondary education and training and the workforce. Earlier this month, Mayor Haslam announced a plan to install regional jobs base camps across the state that will help align and coordinate local economic development efforts and produce powerful strategies to leverage each region’s unique assets.

As a part of the Mayor’s plan to improve workforce development efforts, the directors of these 10-13 base camps will work closely with businesses and postsecondary institutions to create partnerships that help businesses meet workforce demands and help university, community college, and technical center graduates obtain good jobs.

“We should constantly be looking for new ways to partner and create mutually beneficial relationships that ultimately lead to employed Tennesseans,” Haslam said. “Nearly 11 percent of Tennessee workers are currently unemployed, and at the same time, I’ve heard from business owners throughout this Jobs Tour who have told me there’s a shortage of available workers who possess the skills they need,” Haslam continued. “I believe there’s a clear opportunity to do more to help Tennesseans obtain good jobs.

“Throughout the state, there are examples of these types of partnerships,” said Haslam. “Right here in Chattanooga, TVA has had a long-standing relationship with Chattanooga State, which in the past couple years has been taken to a whole new level.”

At this morning’s meeting in Chattanooga, Mayor Haslam emphasized the special nature of the partnership between the Tennessee Valley Authority and Chattanooga State Community College that led to the creation of an entirely new degree program designed to help TVA meet its rising demand for radiation protection technicians. Chattanooga State has a Memorandum of Understanding with TVA that TVA will consider graduates for jobs, and with the first class graduating with associate degrees of applied science in radiation protection technology this May, some students should be landing high quality jobs with TVA in the near future.

“If we look at Clarksville, there’s another great example of this special type of partnership. The state helped foster a relationship between Austin Peay State University and Hemlock, who is going to be a major employer for that region,” Haslam added.

“There are opportunities all across the state to align the needs of businesses, postsecondary institutions, and workers,” Haslam continued. “As governor, I’m going to focus on developing these relationships as a part of my overall effort to create and retain high quality jobs in Tennessee.”

Mayor Haslam is spending Week Three of his three-week, statewide Jobs Tour in East Tennessee, and today is being spent in Bradley, Hamilton, and McMinn counties conducting small business roundtables and meeting with economic development professionals and local business and education leaders. The remainder of the schedule for the East Tennessee swing of the Jobs Tour can be found below.

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.

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

Press Releases

Haslam Calls Health Care Vote ‘Intolerable Expansion of Federal Power’

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, March 21, 2010:

KNOXVILLE – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam released the following statement regarding tonight’s Congressional vote on health care:

“The legislation that passed the House today is an intolerable expansion of federal power and a reminder of the incredible arrogance of Washington. The Obama Administration and Congress chose to defy the majority of Americans and the governors of most states, including our own.

“Not only has the Administration in Washington expanded federal government control into yet another area where we would prefer to trust individual decisions and free markets, this legislation usurps our 10th Amendment right to have a state government that reflects our own priorities.

“Today the federal government imposed an unbearable unfunded mandate that will explode costs in an area our state has worked hard to control. We can’t tolerate Washington making us pay for their bad ideas, and if elected governor, I will pursue every means necessary to protect our state’s interests.”

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

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

Business and Economy Featured News Transparency and Elections

Knock, Knock… No, Seriously

In an age of campaign Web sites featuring YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and JoggleBug, the most old-fashioned campaign tactic known is still playing a traditional role this year.

It even has an old-fashioned name — shoe leather.

Door-to-door campaigning is still in style, and while robocalls and selective direct mail long ago replaced campaign buttons and bumper stickers as more effective ways to target likely voters, nothing seems to beat eye contact and one-on-one electioneering. The trick is you have to do an enormous amount of it if you hope to make an impact.

In modern times, as in traditional ways of reaching voters, door-to-door campaigning ranges from the most basic state legislative races to the highest level in the state, a gubernatorial campaign. It’s an engaging approach in a time when more and more people are suspicious of others who come knocking door to door.

“You’d think you’d get more people who are rude and mean than you do,” said Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, a Republican candidate for governor, who has made door knocking a staple in his campaigns. “I have had a few people say, ‘Get off my front porch,’ but they are few and far between.”

Haslam is getting attention for his door-to-door tactic — the campaign counts an entire neighborhood as one “knock” — and it’s fair to call it a gimmick, the perfect photo-op for a local newspaper to show the candidate connecting with the people. But Haslam seems intent on pursuing the strategy whether there are any media around or not. On one recent “knock” in Wilson County, the selected neighborhood was changed at the last minute in order to hit more houses that were closer together. If any media showed up late at the original site, they were out of luck. So it does make people wonder why he does it.

It is a stretch to think a door-to-door approach is going to make a difference in a statewide election. But the strategy looks as sound today for a local legislative race as ever. Take it from a couple of fresh faces in Nashville.

Jeff Yarbro, 32, is running in the Democratic primary against one of the most revered figures in the Legislature, Sen. Doug Henry of Nashville, 83, who has served for decades. Steven Turner is taking on another legislative veteran, Rep. Mary Pruitt, another Democrat from Nashville.

“This is a race where you’ve got to go door to door, living room to living room,” said Yarbro, a Nashville attorney.

Yarbro has proved to be a serious player based on an ability to raise funds, collecting more than $140,000 already, but he’s not basing his chances of winning on fund-raising.

“I don’t think these races come down to who spends the most money,” Yarbro said. “They will be won by the person who goes out and talks to the people in the community.”

Turner, 26, said recently he has knocked on 150-200 doors and that work ethic is the most effective way he can contend with Pruitt’s experience.

“The only way to combat that is door knocking,” Turner said. “Money does help, but no money can replace the volunteer who will work for you all day and people who are going to come out and take other people to the polls. That’s what ultimately is going to win.”

Haslam can tell some stories.

“I’ve had a lot of good adventures,” he said.

Haslam recalls a fenced yard, where he decided to open the fence, walked in and realized the fence was’t intended to keep people out but to keep a dog in. The dog had Haslam trapped and nipped at him. Haslam did his best to jump over the fence.

“No more working inside a fence,” Haslam said. “It’s just not worth it.”

He remembers the time he thought he was in a carport and pushed a button thinking it was the doorbell but the button was actually for a garage door. So when a woman came to the door he was standing in her garage with the door down. Then there was the time a woman came to the door with a full mudpack beauty treatment on her face and her hair in rollers. She forgot about it until well into the conversation, then reacted in horror.

“One of my favorite stories is of a friend of mine who was running for state representative,” Haslam said. “He walked up on somebody’s porch and didn’t notice they had just painted it. They came out screaming, ‘You dumb blank-blank.” When they asked, ‘What do you want anyway?’ he said I’m so-and-so, and I want your vote for state representative.”

Haslam’s approach is always the same.

“I’m Bill Haslam. I’m the mayor over in Knoxville. I’m running for governor, and I’d appreciate your vote,” he says when someone answers.

People frequently recognize him from campaign commercials, but they will ask questions. The most common seems to be, “Are you a conservative?” When he says yes, he seems to have a willing audience, but people don’t always commit their votes.

On the flip side, if there is a prize for the most imaginative, interactive high-tech approach in the race to be governor, it might go to Bill Gibbons, the Shelby County district attorney general.

In addition to the brief JoggleBug audio messages on his campaign website, Gibbons has launched a contest to beat his bracket in the NCAA basketball tournament.

He also has a feature on the site called, where Gibbons asks voters the question, “What’s the first thing you would do as governor of Tennessee?” One response was to quadruple the size of the budget for the Vanderbilt football team, which is funny for a lot of reasons, but also proves that campaign adventures are not limited to knocking on doors.

Press Releases

Haslam Calls For Memphis-Specific Strategy

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, March 15, 2010:

Memphis offers unique challenges, opportunities for next governor

MEMPHIS – Speaking at a regional meeting with representatives from local chambers of commerce as a part of his statewide Jobs Tour, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mayor Bill Haslam announced today his plans to work with local government and community leaders to develop a specific strategy for state government to help Memphis build on its strengths and address the unique challenges it faces.

Through his many visits to Memphis and Shelby County over the past year and a half, Mayor Haslam has recognized the need for a Memphis-specific strategy. Later this spring, Mayor Haslam will spend three straight days in Memphis meeting with local government and community leaders as part of an ongoing effort to learn more about what state government can do to help in areas such as education, health care, economic development, and public safety.

“I understand that 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.

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

Exact dates and the schedule for the three-straight-day focused visit will be released soon.

“From the Gates Foundation’s recent $90 million investment and ongoing partnership with Memphis City Schools to the resounding success of the local Teach For America chapter, I believe we have an incredible opportunity to capitalize on the momentum that exists right now in Memphis schools,” Haslam said. “Likewise, significant assets such as FedEx and the medical device industry present even more opportunities to help Memphis attract the jobs of the future and improve the quality of life across the city and region.

“However, we also must recognize that Memphis faces many challenges requiring unique strategies. The next governor can’t always address issues in Memphis the same way they’re handled in other parts of the state,” Haslam continued.

Mayor Haslam is spending Week Two of his three-week, statewide Jobs Tour in West Tennessee, and today is being spent in Memphis conducting small business roundtables, touring the local Williams Sonoma distribution facility, attending a meeting with representatives from local chambers of commerce, and knocking on doors to introduce himself to Memphians. The schedule for the West Tennessee swing of the Jobs Tour can be found below.

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.

Education Featured News Tax and Budget

Pre-K Effectiveness Limited; Candidates Still Support It

The educational benefits of Tennessee’s Pre-K program are small and short-lived, according to a report commissioned by the state comptroller and education department.

Those findings echo two previous installments of the “Assessing the Effectiveness of Tennessee’s Pre-Kindergarten Program” series produced by an Ohio-based firm, Strategic Research Group.

“As previous reports in this series have found, there are positive effects on these outcomes associated with participation in Pre-K, although they are for the most part limited to economically disadvantaged students… and are evident primarily in Kindergarten and first grade,” according to the study.

The report also stated that “the magnitude of these effects is small,” and that positive benefits “associated with Pre-K participation tend to diminish over time.” Once the children reach second grade and beyond, their academic performance tends to fall in line with that of their peers who didn’t attend the state’s Pre-K program, according to the study.

Candidates in both parties running for governor say they want to expand the program, which currently enrolls 18,000 children and is budgeted for about $93 million in the coming fiscal year.

Tennessee has spent about $335 million to fund Pre-K education since it was first launched as a pilot program in 1998, according to the Tennessee Department of Education.

The program, which is meant to give children from poor families a head start in learning, is estimated to cost almost $92,955,000 in the 2010-11 school year. More than $86 million of that would come out of the state coffers, with about $6.6 million from the federal government. The state’s total education budget is $5.3 billion.

Calling Pre-K a “home run” of an education program, Democratic candidate for governor Mike McWherter told advocates gathered at the Capitol for a panel discussion on issues affecting Tennessee kids that the strategy behind the program is to “capture those kids at an early age and foster a love for learning in them.” That in turn “will carry them forward throughout their entire careers,” he said.

McWherter promised to continue funding the program if elected, adding that it ought to be made larger.

Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, a Republican, and former Democratic House Majority Leader Kim McMillan both said they support government-funded Pre-K efforts, too. McMillan also said she’d would support enrolling more children if she’s elected.

Congressman Zach Wamp, a Republican from Chattanooga, said he is a big supporter of early childhood programs and said the state has to do more to support it, but didn’t elaborate on what.

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey expressed doubt that the early education program is worthy of additional funding and expansion in the current revenue climate.

“I’ll be right upfront with you. I don’t think that universal Pre-K is the highest and best use of our money here in Tennessee,” said Ramsey.

Andrea Zelinski can be reached at

Business and Economy Featured News

TN’s Big 3 Campaign Issues: ‘Jobs, Jobs & Jobs’

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam plans to launch a statewide “jobs tour” this week, and it’s safe to say he won’t be the only candidate addressing the issue for the next several months.

If there’s been one constant refrain by the candidates thus far, it’s been “jobs, jobs and jobs,” as Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey described Tennessee’s “top three issues” in a recent speech.

Candidates often have pet projects and special agendas in any election. Sometimes candidates completely misread what the public wants and needs, but candidates from both major political parties this year seem to understand the one thing most on the public’s mind is employment and its relationship to the economy.

Haslam, Republican mayor of Knoxville, has also announced that as governor he would create regional “jobs base camps,” where 10 to 13 “regional directors” in the state will apply strategies specific to each area. Haslam says his approach would “decentralize the home office.”

Given Haslam’s assertions that he has a conservative agenda, he was asked if the regional program would add to bureaucracy and expand state government. But he quickly rejected that notion.

“We’re not adding more people. We’re just pushing more authority to the regional level,” said Haslam, whose family owns Pilot Corp., known for its Pilot Travel Centers. “We want the right people to lead that regional effort. It comes from my conviction being in business that the more we pushed decisions down to the local level, the better decisions got made, because they understood the environment there better than we did back at the main office.”

Ramsey has said he wants a focus on small business as governor, to the point he wants every department in state government thinking about it.

He relies on personal experience, where after attending East Tennessee State University and wanting to be self-employed he knew he had to work for someone for two years to get a license as a surveyor. His plan was to put in his two years then immediately quit to go out on his own. That’s what he did.

“When it came time to leave, I said I would give them a two-weeks notice, but I was told, ‘Don’t bother. Go ahead,'” Ramsey said. So he left, and the next day his wife gave birth.

“I didn’t know where my paycheck was coming from. We started with only a pickup truck and a prayer,” Ramsey said.

So Ramsey says he understands the needs of small businesses.

Democrat Mike McWherter, a Jackson businessman, told an audience of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce last week he knows what the state’s priorities should be.

“Tennessee needs a governor who will put the creation and retention of jobs front and center on the agenda. That’s why I’m running for governor,” said McWherter, son of former Tennessee governor Ned McWherter. “Like you, I’m a business person, not a career politician. Like you, I understand what it is to make a payroll. Like you, I understand what it is to sit down and work out a health care plan for the year. Like you, I understand what it is to build a budget and live within that.

“If Tennessee is going to prosper, the next governor has got to be an individual with the skills and background who understands how to build this economy, how to create jobs and, I think most importantly, how to maintain jobs here in Tennessee.”

McWherter said it’s important to get greater accountability out of state government.

“I’ve spent my last 20 years in business creating jobs. In short, that’s what I’m all about. Job creation,” he said. “If we’re going to turn this economy around here at home, we’ve got to put Tennesseans to work, and we’ve got to put Tennessee businesses first.

“If you run an existing business in Tennessee, I have a message for you. I know you’re struggling. But help is on the way.”

McWherter’s Democratic opponent, former legislator Kim McMillan, speaks frequently of the need to capitalize on partnerships like the one at Austin Peay State University and the new Hemlock Semiconductor business in Clarksville, focusing on green technology jobs.

Republican candidate Zach Wamp, a member of Congress from Chattanooga, says that in 10 years the state should go from third to first in automotive manufacturing, and from third to first in energy technologies, including green energy.

He’s fond of saying, “If someone doesn’t make it, build it or grow it, you can’t service it or sell it.”

Wamp also sees an opportunity for job creation in a sector many Tennesseans don’t even think about. He wants to establish a defense corridor, capitalizing on the state’s military assets and using them as an opportunity to establish even more jobs. Wamp says a line of Tennessee military businesses and study centers would fall between Huntsville, Ala., and Fort Campbell, Ky.

Republican Bill Gibbons, district attorney general in Shelby County, focuses on the state’s standing in the region.

“I want to make sure we are above the Southeast average in per capita income,” Gibbons said. “Right now we’re about $1,000 below it and $5,000 below the national average. I think an achievable goal is to be above the Southeast average by the end of the first term. We also have an under-employment problem. The job of governor is to create a climate for economic growth, more good-paying jobs. The jobs have to come from the private sector, but the governor can lead the way in creating that climate for economic growth.”

Gibbons said the climate includes keeping taxes low, providing infrastructure for growth, reducing red tape in state government and to “go after the growth industries of the future.”

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Haslam Sticking to His Guns on Pilot Financial Disclosures

Bill Haslam doesn’t sound like a man who’s going to change his mind and disclose his income from Pilot Corp., the Haslam family business.

“We’re going to spend as much time as we can on who we are and why we think folks should vote for Bill Haslam for governor,” Haslam said this week.

Haslam’s Republican opponents in the governor’s race have blistered the Knoxville mayor for not reporting income from Pilot, citing potential conflicts of interest for Haslam should he become governor.

Pilot Corp., which grew from one gas station to a large chain of Pilot Travel Centers on roadways, is established as a “Subchapter S” corporation under the federal tax code. That status means gains and losses are reported on shareholders’ individual tax returns. Haslam says disclosure of his financial interest in Pilot would mean disclosing personal income of family members, which he does not want to do.

“I don’t know what it adds to the discussion,” Haslam said. “I have other family members I care greatly about that you’re already subjecting to a lot when I run, and this opens them up to a lot of things that they didn’t ask for.”

Haslam, suggesting the ownership of Pilot is obvious to the public, said he doesn’t know what divulging the income would add.

“I don’t know what the voter gains,” he said, explaining that he doesn’t hear questions about his income from voters. “I’m out talking to people all the time. I never hear that. I hear lots of conversations about jobs and education. I hear people concerned about the budget, people concerned about the direction of the country. Nobody ever asks me about that (financial disclosure), except the other candidates.”

The issue arose in December when the state’s four major newspapers, in a collaborative arrangement known as the Tennessee Newspaper Network, asked all 2010 gubernatorial candidates to provide information on their finances.

Candidates were asked in November to provide their federal income tax returns and related schedules for 2006-2008. Haslam reported money earned on investments that averaged $4.75 million a year from 2003-2008, but the submission did not include data on Pilot. Haslam’s submission on investments outside Pilot was extensive.

A copy of a letter dated Nov. 25, 2009 from the Steiner & Ellis accounting firm, addressed to Knoxville News-Sentinel reporter Tom Humphrey, who wrote the income story for the Tennessee Newspaper Network, states, “If elected, all of Bill’s and Crissy’s assets, except Pilot, will be placed in a blind trust.”

Crissy is Bill Haslam’s wife. The Haslam family, headed by James Haslam Jr., the candidate’s father and founder of Pilot Corp., is one of the most influential in the state in terms of wealth, philanthropy and political involvement.

Bill Haslam is considered by many to be the frontrunner in the Republican primary to become governor, and he has collected more than $5.7 million in campaign contributions, which tops the field of four major Republican candidates and three Democrats.

Haslam has already launched a statewide television ad campaign, making him the first to do so.

“We want to do everything we can to answer every question we can,” Haslam said. “Like everything else, you try to say, ‘What do people care about, and what do people need to know if I’m going to be governor?’ Because of that, we’re releasing more than anybody who’s run in this race has released when they ran in prior races and more than is required by law and shows everything we own, I own, and every source of income I think tells people everything they need to know about where I have investments and where I might have potential conflict.”

Haslam says his interest in Pilot isn’t hidden.

“Everybody knows my relationship to Pilot,” he said. “That’s not a secret.”

One of Haslam’s Republican opponents, Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, insists Haslam has a conflict of interest, for example, when the potential for a new highway interchange is considered. U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, another Republican opponent, has said Haslam has numerous conflicts since Pilot sells regulated items such as tobacco, alcohol and lottery tickets.

“On road projects or anything else, if you own any asset and you’re the governor, that same question could be asked,” Haslam said. “The governor oversees and regulates things from all sorts of businesses, from farming to any other kind of commercial interest, and if you own any investments, you could say, ‘Gosh, you shouldn’t be governor.’ I don’t think we want to only have people in government who don’t own any assets.”

Haslam said it is not as though it is a hypothetical issue, given his current office.

“This isn’t a theoretical conversation. I’ve been an active mayor for six and a half years, so there is a track record on all these questions that are being asked,” he said. “I’m more than willing for people to come look at Knoxville and say, ‘All these things we’re concerned about, what’s happening in Knoxville? Would he do this or do that?’ Come check.”

He poses the question of whether the issue means you could only have a governor with no private sector involvement.

“If you say, ‘Only if you have been in government service all your life can you be governor,’ I don’t think people want to put anyone who owns assets on the sidelines like that,” he said. “On roads, the reality is, anytime you add a road, if you have an existing network of gas stations or truck stops, it could easily hurt as much as help. Road investments, like everything else we do as a state, if I’m governor, will be driven by: How can we make Tennessee the best location in the Southeast for jobs?”

Haslam said questions about such issues are being asked more of him than any other candidate in the campaign.
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Ramsey’s Balancing Act Takes Up Two Stages

When you’re the Speaker of the Senate, it’s not like you can skip out on your job for a day and nobody’s going to notice.

It doesn’t take long to see that Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s legislative role is both an advantage and a disadvantage in running for governor when the General Assembly is in session.

Tasked with conducting the Tennessee Senate’s daily political business to the general satisfaction of his legislative colleagues, the press and the public, the Blountville Republican must also invest the energy necessary to get his name and message out where the likely GOP primary voters are.

Foremost in juggling the facets of his self-imposed predicament, Ramsey said he’s trying to “make sure I don’t miss any sessions.”

“I’m in Nashville Monday afternoons, Wednesday mornings and Thursday mornings. But I am traveling here in Middle Tennessee some on Tuesdays and obviously on the weekends,” he said recently.

Ramsey is in the thick of the Republican primary for governor, where the main opposition is Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp of Chattanooga and Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons. Under no circumstances does Ramsey want to be away from the Capitol when key legislation he could be charged with implementing and executing as governor comes up on the Senate agenda.

“It’s tying me down some because I want to be doing the people’s business,” Ramsey said. “I want to make sure we’re balancing the budget without raising taxes. We’re going to do that. It’s still pretty well flexible where I can get out in the collar counties around Davidson County.”

Fortunately for Ramsey, though, he really doesn’t have to go far from the Capitol to locate some prime vote-hunting grounds. This year the “collar counties” surrounding Nashville — most notably Sumner County, Rutherford County and Williamson County — are the central battleground in the four-man Republican field for governor, primarily because none of the candidates are originally from Middle Tennessee.

The political landscape wasn’t always that way. In recent years, the growth of population in the collar counties surrounding Nashville has been significant, and it has especially been so for the Republican Party.

“When I became caucus chairman of the Republicans, Republicans had one of the six state Senate districts around Davidson County. We now have five of the six,” Ramsey said. “That just shows you the trend that’s going on, especially in the Republican primary.”

The situation might even be considered a geographic advantage for Ramsey, who among all the candidates is in some ways closest to “home” in Nashville. Gibbons and Haslam have to work Middle Tennessee from opposite ends of the state.

Wamp has to spend a lot of his time working in Washington, D.C. Not only is the nation’s capital one of the last places rank-and-file Tennessee Republicans are likely looking today for political leadership on issues of state concern, it’s many more miles away from Nashville even than Sullivan County.

None of this is unusual, though: It’s an election year, which means all public officials who are running for new jobs are in a constant state of juggling responsibilities. And it’s one reason state legislators are hopeful the session won’t last too long, since they want to be on the campaign trail.

Another factor for members of the General Assembly is that they may not raise money for their state campaigns while in session, which puts Ramsey at a disadvantage alongside state Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, who was the last of the current Democratic gubernatorial field to announce his candidacy.

Just as being lieutenant governor can boost the visibility of Ramsey working on state business, Kyle can make a similar claim. Kyle was quite visible as a workhorse on education reform in the special session called earlier this year by Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen. Actively handling important legislation can be as important as making campaign stump speeches.

Other Democratic gubernatorial candidates are Mike McWherter, a Jackson businessman, and Kim McMillan, a former House majority leader.

One drawback to being in the legislature is the law that prohibits legislators from raising funds during the session. As long as lawmakers are at work, they must refrain from accepting campaign donations, at least until after May 15. The prohibition does not apply to opponents who aren’t in the General Assembly.

Lawmakers who are running for federal office, however, may raise money during that time, which applies to state Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, and Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin. Herron is running for the retiring U.S. Rep. John Tanner’s seat in the 8th District, while Tracy and Black are both among candidates for the 6th District seat being vacated by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon.

But just as important to remember is that in an election year, it’s not exactly everyone for themselves. A lot of networking goes on, which means candidates help other candidates. Such an example could be found last Wednesday night when Ramsey appeared at a gathering for Dustin Dunbar, who is running for Williamson County commissioner in Spring Hill.

“He and I are good friends. We’ve worked together on several projects in the past,” Dunbar said. “I told him I’d be running for county commission here in Williamson County, and I would definitely appreciate his support. By having the support of those state-level leaders it’s definitely beneficial for somebody on the county level to have some cooperation from people on the state level, because there is so much interaction we have.

“I would say he supports me in my efforts, and I support him in his efforts.”

As if to prove the point of all the interaction, Spring Hill Mayor Michael Dinwiddie addressed the crowd at the Spring Hill event and said he would introduce all the politicians in attendance but it might take an hour, so he called for applause for anybody running for office or currently serving. Dinwiddie introduced Ramsey, and the lieutenant governor introduced Dunbar to the crowd.

“Obviously, if I’m standing in front of a crowd I always want to remind people I’m running for governor,” Ramsey told the group. “I want to just bring that up.”