The economy and jobs will be the No. 1 issue in the upcoming gubernatorial election, and he has the experience to lead the state in the right direction, said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, a candidate for the Republican nomination,.
“I’m the only candidate who has created two small businesses from scratch,” Ramsey said. “I know what it’s like. I’ve been there. It’s going to be a long hard race, and I’m not conceding anywhere.”
Ramsey praised the other individuals running on the Republican ticket for governor. “We have four good candidates running for governor,” he said. “If we had to have a debate, someone would have to write a briefing book for my three competitors. I could write the briefing book.”
Ramsey said that his candidacy is getting support across the state. He started campaigning in earnest after the session ended in June. “In 12 days I raised $1.3 million. It’s tremendous the support I’m getting from Mountain City to Memphis,” he said. “I’d like to think I’m the one who has the vision to take this to the next level.”
Ramsey told the packed conference room that he was born in Blountville in Northeast Tennessee. “I grew up milking cows and putting up tobacco,” he said.
Ramsey said he majored in surveying at East Tennessee State University and started his own surveying business at 25. He was married and his wife, Cindy, had just had their first baby. “Cindy took care of the books, and I was in the field,” he said.
Ramsey said he started doing a lot of surveying for auction companies. He began a career in real estate when a friend suggested he get his real estate license to help work auctions.
“I was fighting bees and snakes and, if I was lucky, I got a $1,000. On Saturdays, the real estate people would show up and make $25,000,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m on the wrong end of this.’ I went to school, learned how to talk fast and at 30, I started my own real estate/auction business.”
In 1992 he was president of the Bristol Association of Realtors and visited the capitol in Nashville on business. He enjoyed what he saw and told his State Rep. Jim Holcomb he wanted to serve whenever the opportunity arose.
“In March of 1992, Jim Holcomb called and said be ready to go,” he said. “Five minutes later Rick Holcomb from the Bristol Herald Courier called and said he had heard I was running for state representative, and I said, “…Yeah.”
After winning election to the state House of Representatives, he served two terms before he was elected to the state senate in 1996. In 2004, the Republicans got their first majority, and it appeared the senators would name him speaker. Instead, Democratic Sen. John Wilder got the nod.
Two years later he convinced Sen. Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarkesville, to vote for him and that swung the majority in his favor, and he was elected Lieutenant Governor by his colleagues in the senate.
Ramsey said the Republicans haven’t relied on luck to gain majorities. “You get to be in the majority by hard work,” he said. “For five years I’ve traveled the state and spread the message that it matters who governs.”
Ramsey took time to recognize members of the Blount delegation, and he thanked State Sen. Doug Overbey, State Rep. Joe McCord and joked that he and State. Rep. Bob Ramsey were cousins.
“I value Doug’s advice. Joe and I have become unbelievable good friends,” he said.
Ramsey said there are four or five different cliques in the House but McCord works well with them all. “Joe can get them to come together,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said his first priority if elected governor would be putting the right people in positions of responsibility. “The most important thing a governor does is put the right people in commissioner positions,” he said.