Is Bill Haslam your next governor?

Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 11:45pm
Bill-Haslam.jpg

“I was hoping to go for a run before council,” Bill Haslam says on the other end of a cell phone that belongs to Janet McGaha, manager of his office as mayor of Knoxville, the third-largest city in Tennessee and, as Haslam likes to boast on the campaign trail for
governor, the city with the lowest unemployment rate in the state.

The 51-year-old is trying to arrange a few things before the 7 p.m. meeting of the Knoxville City Council, over which he presides.

He arrives at Café 4, a bistro in the revamped Market Square, wearing a gray Fulton Falcons T-shirt that is polka-dotted with sweat marks, blue-and-gray Nike jogging shorts and white Asics running shoes. On his wrist is a bulky digital Ironman watch that he uses to time miles when he runs. His average mile: 8.5 minutes. His breathing is still a bit labored from the run, and his brown hair — graying at the temples — clumps with sweat. He does not have a cell phone with him; he left it at the office, about six blocks from here, and when he needs to make a call, he borrows an iPhone from a man he knows who is standing nearby, leaving the screen streaked with sweat when he hangs up, handing it back with a hearty, smiling thank-you.

Haslam is as placid as a chummy uncle, an unusual quality for a man with such high political ambition, with so much riding on the two jobs he’s performing simultaneously. If he experiences stress, he does not show it. He moves through crowds and negotiations alike with the confidence and ease of someone who has grown up on top, a near-mythical quality to plebes and one that he seems to know how to work to his advantage.

His ascendancy is not unexpected: Haslam’s father Jim started Pilot Oil, now one of the largest and most successful Tennessee businesses ever, and plowed the path for Bill to become president of the company, during which time Pilot grew immensely, from 5,000 to 14,000 employees spread across 39 states.

Although he stepped down as president to run for mayor in 2003, Haslam still draws a vast portion of his income from the company, which his brother Jimmy runs. (It’s not clear how much comes from Pilot, as Haslam has thus far refused to make public his tax returns, saying that doing so would reveal private information about other family members.) Pilot has remained a campaign point for Haslam: He uses it as a reminder to voters of his “executive experience,” while his opponents continue to point out price-gouging lawsuits against Pilot in 2008, allegations of illegal gambling at Pilot travel centers in other states, and the company’s recent $1.8 billion merger with Flying J, in which the Federal Trade Commission is requiring the company to divest 26 of its locations to alleviate antitrust concerns.

This criticism just rolls off Haslam; when met with it, he tends to smile halfheartedly — the chummy uncle is suddenly disappointed in you — and suggest that any governor of Tennessee would be crazy not to want such a major corporation headquartered here. Which is probably right, all things considered.

But Haslam’s business career is not all high marks. From 1999 to 2001, he ran Saks Direct, an e-commerce division of Saks Fifth Avenue started in 1972 but reimagined near the end of the dot-com boom. During his two-year stint as CEO, Saks Direct stock lost more than two-thirds of its value. When Saks Fifth Avenue announced it was reorganizing the division in 2001, it attributed a $35.1 million loss to Saks Direct, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The CEO asked me to come start an Internet retail business,” Haslam said in response to a question about Saks Direct during a debate last week at Belmont University. “… That business team is still there and recognized throughout the Internet world as a great team, and [now] it’s the second most profitable division at Saks.”

But on this day in Knoxville, Haslam is “being mayor,” as his campaign staff is wont to say. After spending 45 minutes or so at the cafe, he checks his watch and stands; it’s time to begin the 15-minute walk back to the office. There, he will catch a quick shower, join his cabinet for a pre-council meeting during which he will inhale a couple slices of pizza while being briefed on agenda items, then make the trip down six floors to chambers, where he will spend the next few hours listening to complaints about a new development that needs a zoning change to break ground, another allowing people to use goats to hold back overgrowing kudzu, and some chipper chatter over allowing suddenly chic urban chicken farming within the city limits — and why not, really? — among all kinds of other things.

You take on a job like mayor knowing it will change your life, probably consume your life, Haslam says. You run for governor with the same fervor. When you do both, you trade the fundamental privacy of your personal life for something hellishly intense. You do it knowingly, willingly.

“It sounds like I’m joking, but one of the hardest things literally is listening to yourself talk for that long,” he says. “After a while, you get bored with yourself, and you think, ‘Well, everybody’s already heard this.’ Well, they haven’t, but you have.”

Office for sale

It’s not altogether outlandish to say that Bill Haslam is buying this election, a notion that has been trumpeted for months. His Republican opponents — U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey — continue to hammer him on that front, suggesting it is somehow outrageous for the most heartily financed campaign to win a political race in America. Were they not obsessing at the same time over his multi-millionaire family — suggesting it’s his family money that’s paying for this election — they’d be closer to the mark. Because it is the way he’s buying the election that’s so fascinating, not the simple fact that he’s buying it.

According to spending and fundraising reports, the latest of which was filed with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance last Monday, the Haslam juggernaut has dropped more than $7 million on the primary thus far. His ads have appeared on statewide television since the Olympics in February. His mailers remind voters that despite what his opponents have said, he supports expanded gun rights, and he drops the ever-important political-code phrase — “Second Amendment” — to bring the message home. Because of his campaign’s cash flow, Haslam’s message appears in near-perpetuity, with his opponents trying to catch up by using the media, social networking websites, and so forth.

During the second quarter, Haslam spent $3.5 million, more than double the closest competitor, Wamp, who doled out almost $1.7 million. Ramsey, meanwhile, fell far behind in the fundraising stakes during the second quarter, taking in $278,257 to Haslam’s $2 million. (Although it’s worth noting that Ramsey still had about $65,000 more on hand than Wamp, whose campaign was sitting on $1.29 million last week.)

The mayor also loaned his campaign $400,000, the first such personal expenditure for Haslam (Ramsey and Wamp lent their campaigns money months ago). But it’s paltry in comparison with the $8.7 million he has raised in the last 18 months.

Which brings us to what’s so fascinating about Haslam’s progress toward buying this election. Never in the history of a Tennessee campaign have so many people donated to one candidate. The campaign’s count, confirmed through publicly available fundraising reports, is 8,387 individual contributors. Those people have made almost 12,000 different financial contributions. The sweep of that giving far exceeds everyone else’s.

“He leaves a wonderful impression on people when he works a crowd,” says Ted Welch, a well-known Republican fundraiser who has worked for, among others, Sen. Lamar Alexander. Welch, who donated money to Bill Gibbons’ abandoned primary effort, has not contributed to Haslam’s campaign, according to finance records. “He handles it beautifully, and he’s remembered very favorably by the people who meet him.”

For all the hubbub over Haslam’s wealth, this primary doesn’t even graze the edge of some others happening now in America. In California, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner waged a Republican primary for governor that saw some $114 million raised and spent — though $70 million of that came out of Whitman’s pocket. She has said she’s willing to personally spend $150 million in the general election.

In Florida, independently wealthy Republican Rick Scott is only $3 million short of the $24.9 million spending limit in his party’s primary, which is still more than a month away. If Scott exceeds that mark, his opponent would get matching funds from the state for every extra $1.

Still, Haslam is the Rich Guy in a race of rich guys (relatively speaking), which puts him in the necessary position of convincing the public that he is also the Nice Guy, the Sane Guy and the Responsible Guy. Along with public appearances and the occasional debate, Haslam is using TV to deliver those messages: All 13 of his TV ads are positive, folksy and character-driven. Whether it’s Friendly Bill in front of a black-nothing backdrop talking sedately about the avalanche of pain to befall Tennesseans if the budget gap is not addressed, or a rancher leaning on his truck while testifying to Haslam’s conservative and Christian credos, the ads lead back to one central message: Bill Haslam is the guy you want in charge.

It is a carefully crafted message in a carefully crafted campaign where Haslam, portraying himself as the genteel one, has continued to evade divisive issues.

Conservative bona fides?

One of the major agenda items for this evening’s Knoxville City Council meeting is the ordinance to allow urban chicken farming. Councilwoman Marilyn Roddy, seeking to defer the measure for two weeks, asks whether anyone in the crowd — the assembly hall is about two-thirds full, mostly white and mostly older — is “here to speak to hens.” After a beat of silence, Haslam, who presides over the council, leans into his mic and says, “Speak to hens?” He cracks a smile and waits another beat for the crowd and other council members to laugh, which they do, at which point Haslam lets out a signature chuckle, a funny little sound he makes when he thinks something is humorous or, also, when he’s a little uncomfortable. It’s barely perceptible, but Haslam does it often when talking about issues like gun rights, abortion, immigration and other items that are high on the tea party agenda.

Haslam doesn’t spend much time talking about such issues — not on the trail, certainly not as mayor of Knoxville.

“Bill very much sticks to the business at hand,” says Vice Mayor Bob Becker, a Democrat. “Even more so, he looks for ways to connect with people, so he doesn’t tend to talk about social issues or his beliefs. He will if you start the conversation, but he doesn’t push it.”

When you do start that conversation, Haslam fidgets. His face sours and he gets gravely serious. He emphasizes the points he makes (which are often rather soft compared with Wamp and Ramsey) with a harrumph noise made by quickly pushing air through the nostrils; he does this all the time when he’s challenged on some issue he doesn’t want to discuss, or that’s maybe a little outside his wheelhouse. He also rubs his right foot on the ground to no particular rhythm, toe down and fixed, heel raised just enough to give clearance for the quick, staccato movements. Back and forth. Back and forth. Indicators of anxiety, like we all have. Except when you put yourself on this kind of pedestal, people notice.

“I think [the candidates are] running on things they know about,” says John Geer, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University and author of In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns. “You get out of your zone of comfort … and that starts to weigh. It works against you.”

In a tough primary without the crutch of the guaranteed party-line vote, the three major Republicans have to play up their differences rather dramatically. But Wamp and Ramsey, in reaching for essentially the same demographic, are stepping all over each other, while Haslam has, at least thus far, remained mostly above the fray.

“It just strikes me that he is very much a conservative Republican out of the [Lamar] Alexander mold or the [Bob] Corker mold,” Geer says. He expects Haslam to win the primary and, in all likelihood, the general election.

“He’s going to be a good manager, and that’s what he’s comfortable with. In some ways, he’s positioning himself as [another] Phil Bredesen,” Geer says.

Bredesen, a wealthy businessman who doesn’t take a government salary (neither does Haslam in Knoxville) and tends to avoid rhetorical flame-throwing, has recently reminded voters how squirrelly he can be on social issues: He just signed into law an immigration bill that would require jailers to obtain proof of citizenship for any arrestee they suspect might be in the country illegally, saying at the same time that he didn’t particularly agree with the bill on substance but a veto would put fellow Democrats in a difficult position with conservatives come election time.

Like the Democratic governor, Haslam seems to crawl toward such conclusions. Asked during a sit-down interview for his thoughts on gay marriage, abortion and allowing guns in bars — three issues given ample time by the General Assembly of late — Haslam stumbled and demurred before giving brief, general answers confirming his conservative bona fides: He is a believer in traditional marriage who is pro-life and supports allowing permit-holders to carry their guns into establishments that serve alcohol. Otherwise, he is typically unspecific on such issues.

During a conversation that took place more than a month ago, Haslam said that as governor, he would not intercede if the legislature were obsessing over such social issues. Instead, he said, he would pursue a sort of separate, parallel agenda concerned principally with economic development, education and balancing the budget — let the kids play while the adults handle the real business, he seemed to be saying. This sets him in stark contrast with Wamp, who has said he would “quarterback” the legislature, peeving both state legislators and Ramsey, more the quarterback than anyone.

“Yeah, I mean, I think the legislature’s going to do what they’re going to do, and obviously they have leaders who are going to focus on issues that they choose, and I assume that will keep happening,” Haslam said in response to a question about whether he agreed with a resolution to honor Arizona for its new immigration law.

Asked if he would sign a bill modeled on that state’s law, which has been criticized for being discriminatory toward those of non-white descent, he said simply: “If they passed it, yes.”

If there has been a signature problem with the Haslam candidacy, this is it: He is not conservative enough. He has an inglorious history with gun rights, having joined New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns group — to curb gun violence in cities — before withdrawing under pressure (and already as a gubernatorial candidate) after the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights supporters lined up against Bloomberg. Speaking of the NRA, Haslam joined in March 2009 (also while campaigning for governor), and he has acknowledged that he doesn’t own a gun. That has undermined his credibility when it comes to determining who most supports the Second Amendment, which seems to be a paramount issue to some in this race.

“I’m trying to be nice, but I mean that’s got to be the most phony thing we’ve seen in Tennessee politics in many years,” Wamp told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

And his position on immigration, once nuanced, has been troublesome for some conservatives. He has said numerous times, including in interviews for this story, that he favors cracking down on businesses who employ illegal immigrants before going further with legislation. But last week, perhaps under mounting pressure to be more forceful on an issue that has clearly captured the spirits of Tennesseans, Haslam issued an ad in which he lines up with Wamp and Ramsey, saying he would enact a law requiring law enforcement officials to ask for citizenship papers of those they encounter and suspect might be in the country illegally,
a la Arizona.

Budget breakdown

Amid all the furor about federal policy over which it is unclear any Tennessee law could hold sway, the biggest, most concrete problem facing the next governor will be the gaping $1.5 billion hole forecast for the next state budget. The reasons for that hole are esoteric, complex and not exactly soundbite-ready. Yet how to confront it has remained Haslam’s foremost message.

In fact, it is one of the three pillars of the Haslam campaign: budget, jobs and education.

“My experience with Bill is that he focuses on the issues that he can directly impact as mayor, such as budgets, education, housing, economic development, downtown revitalization, etc.,” says Madeline Rogero, who lost to Haslam in a close, heated race for Knoxville mayor in 2003 (although Knoxville’s races are nonpartisan, it was clear that Rogero was the Democrat). Haslam appointed Rogero director of community development in 2006.

A Haslam first term might well be Tennessee’s moment of austerity. While he’s been reluctant to name specific programs or agencies where cuts will come, he has indicated that there will be many nicks, not necessarily a few slashes.

“You saw how much they wrangled in the last three weeks about I guess it was $120 million,” he says. “Next year the cuts and issues are going to be a lot bigger. So it’ll be my purpose to start those budget issues early, because there will be cuts and they will be controversial. They won’t be easy. There will be a lot of things that end up getting cut that people are going to say, ‘How in the world can you do that?’ So let’s push those and have those conversations starting early.”

He has issued a 15-page plan called “Jobs4TN,” in which he outlines strategies for growth and principles by which he would conduct the business of the state. To wit: no income tax; make market data more readily available to people on all sides of a new or existing business; institute regional workforce development assessments; decentralize the state development department; create “Small Business Works” and “Tennessee First,” two vaguely defined government programs designed to help small businesses build and grow.

Haslam has also proposed four ways to help Tennessee’s mortally deficient public education system: Raise testing standards; create assessment and training programs for principals to improve managerial quality at schools; recruit good teachers; make student data more available to both parents and teachers so that intervention may come sooner for failing students.

“Local government, the politics goes away,” Haslam says. “At the end of the day, these jobs — being mayor and governor — are about delivering services.”

Haslam has showered at his office and returns wearing a light blue oxford shirt — back wrinkled, sleeves rolled up to forearms — a pair of dark khaki dress pants with black cross-stitching, and a tie with fat green-and-white stripes. The back of the tie swings freely and is nearly as long as the front, suggesting one of three things: a sloppy knot, a short torso or a long tie. He looks more like an assistant Little League coach dressed to receive an award for community leadership than the guy running the show.

His office is like any mayor’s: filled with knickknacks, like a commemorative skateboard deck and a hardhat emblazoned with some date worth memorializing. The magnificent panoramic view includes the Tennessee River and the Smoky Mountains. On his desk is an iPad (whose screen is covered in finger smudges from heavy use) and a Blackberry. Near the desk are two chairs and a couch, over which hangs a massive portrait of Haslam and family; the mayor is in the foreground, and his wife of 29 years, Crissy (a nearly ubiquitous presence on the campaign trail) and daughters stand behind him.

He is comfortable here, it seems, more so than on the trail. Perhaps it is because in this place, Haslam is used to controlling the conversation, something that doesn’t seem to come naturally to him but to which he is nonetheless accustomed.

27 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 7/19/10 at 4:55

Who would want a guy that built and ran a multi million (if not billion) dollar business and a city when we can have an autioneer or a beer distributor? [/sarcasim]

By: govskeptic on 7/19/10 at 5:00

This has got to be one of the lengthest Endorsements disguised as a story I've ever read in TCP. Most of the major newspapers in the state have endorsed Mr. Haslam, so I suppose he's to be the next governor, right?

By: house_of_pain on 7/19/10 at 5:31

ABW...Anyone But Wamp.

By: Kosh III on 7/19/10 at 7:29

Anyone but the current crop.

Is this really the best we can do?

By: bccoolj on 7/19/10 at 7:35

NABR.....Nearly Anyone But Ramsey.

If Haslam can run the State as well as Bredesen has, then I wouldn't have a problem with him as Governor. We need to continue a trend of businessmen-Governors. I believe either Haslam or McWherter could fit the bill. The Good-ole-boys network (ie., Wamp and Ramsey) needs to only go as far in power as the Speaker in the Gen. Assembly.

Wamp will likely be a former-Congressman-turned-governor disaster as Sundquist was, and Ramsey will have us secede again from the Union (Tennessee first this time instead of last.) His principle of refusing any federal aid will have us in major collapse in no time. But at least he made cuts, right?!?! NABR!

By: trtay2004 on 7/19/10 at 7:39

I agree with GOVSKEPTIC (which I never have) and BCCOOLJ. Also, has anyone looked into the alledged child molestation accusations against Haslam? I've heard several rumors, but would like to find out the truth.

By: AmyLiorate on 7/19/10 at 7:49

Didn't Haslam get beat down in the debate just a week ago. Was it so bad that he canceled his participation in a second debate the next day on WTN?

I heard he was eating breakfast when the debate started on the radio just 10 miles away.

House, do you mean Washington Wamp? "I'll only do six terms, no make that eight...I'm really comfortable here in DC"

And "I'll never take PAC money". Until he figured out that only winning by ~2% means he needs more cash, to heck with promises.

I still say that there aren't many Haslam supporters out there, only large signs. If the media is endorsing him then that tells me he is watered down.

By: Cookie47 on 7/19/10 at 7:54

There must be a pucker mark in The City Paper masthead blue the size of Texas across Haslam's ass after this story.

Cookie47

By: joe41 on 7/19/10 at 8:03

I am totally dismayed at the substance of this year's crop of gubernatorial candidates. They seem to know so little about the issues facing Tennessee that I cringe everytime I hear them speak. Haslam, in particular, is inept when I comes to the debates and I just don't trust his answers. Why do you think they pushed him out of running things at Pilot Oil? Running for political office was something daddy dreamed up for him so that Jimmy could run the business.

Anyway we can keep Bredesen?

Joe

By: xhexx on 7/19/10 at 8:10

Haslem's defense about being part of Mayor Bloomberg's anti-gun group was that he didn't know how anti-gun they were? If true, he's obviously way to stupid to be our governor. I lean on the side that he's totally disingenuous, that he only quit Bloomberg's group and joined the NRA when it became a political liability for him.

By: Captain Nemo on 7/19/10 at 8:22

Haslam is the only one not licking Tea Party Boots. How refreshing.

By: TN4th on 7/19/10 at 8:30

I am skeptical that a rational, pragmatic candidate can survive the GOP primary process.

By: Brandable on 7/19/10 at 8:35

Just be professional. It's okay for you to endorse one of your shareholders (Haslam owns stock in SouthComm), but you should have disclosed it in the first paragraph. You broke the rules and it reflects poorly on your candidate and your newspaper.

By: tv8527 on 7/19/10 at 9:19

I don't trust this guy as far as I can throw him. He's a reminds me of Don Sundquist.only with a folksy charisma that he never had.If we were to get this guy as gov the only defense we would have is Ramsey ,So why not elect Ramsey & be done with it ?

By: farmboys on 7/19/10 at 10:07

just what we need!! another oil tycoon in political office. when are we going to wake up and stop allowing this!?!

By: pswindle on 7/19/10 at 12:06

Mike is our only choice. We must put the democratic and republican parties aside and get the best guy in office. Mike will have good guidance from his father. As we know, his father was one of the best for TN. Haslam is totally an oil man. I can't think of the right words to describe the other two except, HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: Cookie47 on 7/19/10 at 12:39

I liked McWherter's father, Ned Ray, but since pswindle likes Mike and he's a damn Democrat, there's no way I'll vote for the guy.

Haslam won't get my vote either. I was in East TN right after Hurricane Ike and saw how Pilot stations raised there prices as quick as possible. Subsequently they were slammed with several charges of price gouging. Couple that with his stance on guns and there's no way I want him as governor.

Cookie47

By: echulse on 7/19/10 at 12:41

TNSCNED. "govskeptic" apparently did not read the ENTIRE news story! I noticed SEVERAL things in the article that were unflattering, and perhaps even "critical."

But Haslam’s business career is not all high marks. From 1999 to 2001, he ran Saks Direct, an e-commerce division of Saks Fifth Avenue started in 1972 but reimagined near the end of the dot-com boom. During his two-year stint as CEO, Saks Direct stock lost more than two-thirds of its value. When Saks Fifth Avenue announced it was reorganizing the division in 2001, it attributed a $35.1 million loss to Saks Direct, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Office for sale

It’s not altogether outlandish to say that Bill Haslam is buying this election, a notion that has been trumpeted for months. . . . Because it is the way he’s buying the election that’s so fascinating, not the simple fact that he’s buying it.

Haslam, portraying himself as the genteel one, has continued to evade divisive issues.

[H]e does this all the time when he’s challenged on some issue he doesn’t want to discuss, or that’s maybe a little outside his wheelhouse. He also rubs his right foot on the ground to no particular rhythm, toe down and fixed, heel raised just enough to give clearance for the quick, staccato movements. Back and forth. Back and forth. Indicators of anxiety, like we all have. Except when you put yourself on this kind of pedestal, people notice.

Asked during a sit-down interview for his thoughts on gay marriage, abortion and allowing guns in bars — three issues given ample time by the General Assembly of late — Haslam stumbled and demurred before giving brief, general answers confirming his conservative bona fides: He is a believer in traditional marriage who is pro-life and supports allowing permit-holders to carry their guns into establishments that serve alcohol. Otherwise, he is typically unspecific on such issues.

Asked if he would sign a bill modeled on [Arizona's] law, which has been criticized for being discriminatory toward those of non-white descent, he said simply: “If they passed it, yes.”

[The fact that he joined Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" group, then resigned and joined the N.R.A. (while campaigning for governor)] has undermined his credibility when it comes to determining who most supports the Second Amendment, which seems to be a paramount issue to some in this race.

By: MelissaMB on 7/19/10 at 12:43

I agree this is a thinly disguised endorsement masquerading as a "news" article that should have run way before Voting started. And yes, while the writer may not have known, the editors should have disclosed Haslam's ownership stock. SHAME ON YOU for both offenses! Now, in response to article's slant and some comments above, I know Zach Wamp for the great man and representative he's been for us in WashDC. He got tired of "the Washington way" and wants to use his experience and Valuable Contacts to lead a stronger Tennessee into the next decade. He was the first candidate to travel to all counties and talk to people about issues, get common-sense counsel, and develop proposals to improve our lives with more jobs, better education, and safer communities. Yes, Zach is a passionate person. That means he won't sit on his duff and let opportunities pass our state...in any region.

By: GUARDIAN on 7/19/10 at 1:13

GUARDIAN;I've know Zach Wamp for many many years and he is a good man. I don't
know Bill Haslam or Ron Ramsey but I have friends that know both of them
well and I have studied their past politics. I think Zach would make a
good Governor but I think he has lost his way in this election and wish
he would of staid in Washington. Bill is a good business man but he
reminds me toooo much of Jake Butcher. I think he is a progressive pretending to be a
republican who won't stand up to the current powers in Washington on anything of O'Hitler's, States Rights or Gun Rights. When the Knoxville News Sentential is on your side and says only good things about you then you are a democrat. I'm beginning to feel that I can trust Ron Ramsey to do the right thing for all Tennesseans and that he will stand up for all of our right's against the socialist power grabbers in Washington. It's not election day but that is where I stand today.

By: AmyLiorate on 7/19/10 at 1:54

Wow, out of about 20 individuals on here only 1 seems to be in favor of Wamp.

I thought he was being called a front runner?

We have only 1 pro-McWhirter and a couple of smart "Non Of The Above" comments.
Mr. NOTA - gets many votes but just never gets elected ;)

By: BigPapa on 7/19/10 at 2:22

Im all for making Phil "Gov for Life". Let him run this place as long as he wants. May have Andrea Conte run to beat those pesky term limit laws?

By: budlight on 7/19/10 at 3:25

Anyway we can keep Bredesen?

Joe

Yes, he can run the bar in the bunker.

By: budlight on 7/19/10 at 3:28

BigPapa on 7/19/10 at 3:22
Im all for making Phil "Gov for Life". Let him run this place as long as he wants. May have Andrea Conte run to beat those pesky term limit laws?

You're gonna have Obama for life; or at least the fall out from his 4 year reign of terror. My friends made $100,000 in their small business last year. Under Bushe's tax breaks, they paid $15,000 in self-employment tax. Under Obama's projected removal of tax breaks, they will have to belly up $40,000.

Whew! That is in addition to the cost of employees and running the business. Obama will put the small people into a new category -- SMALLER!

By: idgaf on 7/19/10 at 3:54

Budlight they call that trickle down poverty.

By: dangerlover on 7/20/10 at 1:38

Budlight, I'm no Obama lover, but your numbers don't add up. Any halfway competent accountant will tell you that taxes are paid on profit, not revenue. So if a company pulls in $100k, and pays $50k in salaries and wages, taxes are paid on the remaining $50k. Even if you misspoke, and they paid $15k on profit, that's a 15% rate, which is what the people just above the poverty line pay.

Also, Obama is not raising taxes, he's simply letting the expiration that Bush built in come to pass...on a tax cut that wasn't paid for.

I'm registered Independent, so I have no dog in any political fight, but I can't stand it when people make sh*t up and expect other people to believe it.

By: govskeptic on 7/21/10 at 9:48

"Registered Independent"? That's going to be an interesting primary!