Mike McWherter, suddenly the last candidate standing in a once-crowded Democratic field, filed his qualifying petition to run for governor Thursday and promptly took a shot at the GOP front-runner, Bill Haslam.
During a speech on the steps of the state Capitol, McWherter accused the Knoxville mayor of exaggerating his accomplishments in his first TV ad in which he boasts of creating 11,000 jobs as an executive with his family’s Pilot Corp. Haslam’s campaign has conceded that nearly half that many jobs were added to the company's payroll through mergers and acquisitions of other truck stop chains.
“These are serious times,” McWherter said, “and these times require more from a candidate than simply juggling numbers on his TV ads to inflate his accomplishments. Tennesseans will see through those tricks, take the measure of the man, and say, 'If he's willing to stretch the truth on jobs, how can we trust him with the economy.'"
The Haslam campaign declined to comment.
It was the second time McWherter has criticized Haslam. A month ago, he slammed Haslam for refusing to disclose all his income or to agree to put his Pilot holdings into a blind trust if he's elected governor.
McWherter, a Jackson businessman and the son of former Gov. Ned McWherter, filed his qualifying petition with the Tennessee secretary of state on the deadline for candidates to appear on the ballot. Five Democrats originally were running for governor but all but McWherter has since withdrawn. The last to drop out was former House Democratic leader Kim McMillan, who announced Wednesday she will run for Clarksville mayor instead.
Also in his speech, McWherter pledged to give a tax break to any business that creates jobs — “small businesses, the mom-and-pop operations, the entrepreneurs, the rural farm operations.”
“It’s crystal clear and it’s simple,” he said. “If you create jobs here in Tennessee, we’ll give you a tax break. We have to look after