The Republican field of gubernatorial candidates has grown by one -- Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey of Blountville, who made a formal announcement of sorts in Greeneville at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner sponsored by the Greene County Republican Women.
When Ramsey took the platform to announce the keynote speaker, state GOP chairman Robin Smith, he took note of the three declared gubernatorial candidates who had preceded him -- District Attorney Genral Bill Gibbons of Memphis, 3rd District congressman Zack Wamp of Chattanooga, and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam -- and was reported as saying, "I am here in Greene County to announce that I am going to be a candidate for governor."
Thus ended speculation that had been rife for several days about the imminence of a Ramsey announcement. Prior to that, there had been serious speculation as well about the likelihood of Ramsey's ascending to the governor's office through the departure of current Governor Phil Bredesen, who had until recently been rumored to be a possible nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services by President Obama.
The entry of Ramsey, from the Tri-City area of the state's northeast corner, means that each of the state's major population centers has been accounted for in the Republican primary field except for Nashville.
Taking aim at the Southern Republican governors who have so far rejected federal stimulus funds for extending unemployment benefits, Rep. Steve Cohen put them in the context of the separatist "Jim Crow" past. He implored Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, a fellow Democrat, not to join their ranks.