Good intentions will not win a gubernatorial primary.
That was the message Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam had when he addressed a standing-room-only crowd in the back of Aubrey’s Restaurant in Maryville.
“In this governor’s race, just meaning to vote really doesn’t count. If we’re going to win, folks have to go vote,” he said.
Haslam thanked the supporters for their efforts since he began campaigning in early 2009. “After 19 months, we’re two days away. Here’s what I need you to do: Think of five people, call them and ask them to vote for me,” he said. “We’re two days out, and we’re ahead. The reason I know that is because every poll shows we’re ahead and every one of my opponents is shooting at us.”
The mayor said commercials can be effective but nothing works like personal testimony. “If everyone who says they’re voting for us does so, we’ll win. This race does matter. Good leadership does matter. The budget is facing a billion dollar deficit. The only answer is to shrink the size of government. We’ve got to recruit jobs, so elect someone who has done that. I am very grateful for your vote. Please help us.”
Wilson Borden, co-chair of Haslam’s campaign in Blount County, said the mayor is “absolutely” the man to lead the state in the next four to eight years. “He’s the type of person any Tennessean will be proud to say, ‘He’s my governor,’” Borden said.
Lynn Cox of Maryville said Haslam knows how to create jobs. “He’s the right man for the job. He is what the state needs -- someone who can lead,” Cox said.
Starr Bragg said she knows the mayor and his wife, Crissy, personally. “I believe in them. We need someone who can get the state of Tennessee moving in a positive direction,” she said.
U.S. Congressman Jimmy Duncan and University of Tennessee head men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl rode with the mayor from Nashville east to Chattanooga and then Maryville with other stops in between where supporters were very enthusiastic. “In Chattanooga, I had two different people, one who was a state representative, tell me Bill will win Hamilton County,” he said of the county where Republican rival Zach Wamp lives. “Bill Haslam is without a doubt the best candidate running in either party.”
Pearl said this was the first time he had campaigned for a candidate in any election, and he praised the mayor’s character and challenged opponent’s assertions Haslam was too nice a guy. “Would there be something wrong with a governor having moral, ethical standards?” he said.
Stephen Daves of Maryville said the mayor’s business experience is vital “I think he’s going to do a very good job,” he said.
Laura Hunt said the mayor will create jobs and will understand how important education is to recruiting industry.
Andy White, vice mayor of Maryville, said Haslam has vital experience to bring to the state. “He is the only Republican candidate who has balanced a budget, the only one who has employed people in his business,” he said.
Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher said the state needs a good leader. “He’s shown that in what he’s done in Knoxville. He’s got the business and government experience. Without question, Tennessee needs someone with experience who can start on day-one and not have to be trained. He can hit the ground running,” Hatcher said.
Mary Beth West said she appreciates Haslam’s business management style. “He is business-friendly and will attract the kinds of companies we need to create economic solutions - the right kinds of jobs and industry,” she said.