Ramsey, the Speaker of the state Senate and the state’s Lieutenant Governor, is famous for saying, “What do I want out of government? Nothing!” And he reckons that his supporters, whom he sees abounding in the Memphis suburbs, are of the same mind.
As he said Friday, “What suburban voters want is someone to share their values.” And he thinks the same sentiments prevail in rural c0ommunities. “They’re not asking for government programs.”
What Ramsey sees himself doing, both as a constitutional officer of the state and as a gubernatorial candidate, is putting coalitions together. And he was explicit on Friday about the nature of his coalition in 2010.
He named four components: Small business people, believers in 2nd amendment rights, pro-life voters, and members of the Tea Party movement.
Like them, Ramsey likes to contrast the “Tennessee way” with the “Washington way.” That’s a message he has broadcast in a couple of campaign ads featuring his Texas-style Western boots so far and one which, he said Friday, will go back on the airwaves Monday.
Ramsey boasted to a crowd of supporters at the headquarters opening about his support of gun-rights legislation, his efforts to restrain state spending, and his sponsorship of a measure to counteract the recently enacted federal health-care program.
He had dispraise for Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam and Chattanooga congressman Zach Wamp, the two “good friends” running against him in the Republican primary.
“Mayor Haslam from Knoxville, he just doesn’t get it….He’s the Establishment candidate, I think he just wants to take it easy, he wants to play the four-corners offense, just coast his way in on his money. If it wasn’t for his being worth a billion dollars he wouldn’t be a legitimate candidate. I believe that.” He said Haslam had been a member of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Guns” group and had raised property taxes in Knoxville.
As for Wamp: “That other candidate I’m running against has been in Washington for 16 years. He has this saying: I want to meet ‘em at the border. Well, I hope there’s a mirror there when he gets there. He’ll be staring back at himself when he gets there because I want to tell you, it’s been Republicans and Democrats alike up there that have been spending us into oblivion.”
Ramsey said Wamp had been “the king of earmarks in Washington, D.C.,” and he criticized the congressman for “promising $50 million of state money” as a solution to the problems of the Med. (This was his way of describing compensatory federal funds generated by Med charity care and routed from Washington back to state government for redistribution.)
Ramsey professed himself “satisfied” with the results of a Rasmussen poll, published this week, showing Haslam to have a slight lead over himself and Wamp, tied for second place among Republicans running for governor. (The poll showed all three Republicans beating Democrat Mike McWherter in the general election.)
He said “it tells you something” that Haslam had so far out-spent him “five or six to one” and was still only six points ahead in the poll.
“This is going to be a very close election,” Ramsey said, suggesting that the final split in the Republican primary would be something like “40-30-30.” Presumably he intends to claim the 40.