Sunday, August 26, 2001

HILLEARY UNDERSCORES DIFFERENCES WITH SUNDQUIST

Governor's income tax plan termed "divisive."

Posted By on Sun, Aug 26, 2001 at 4:00 AM

In an interview before he addressed an audience of the East Shelby County Republican Party at the group’s annual “Master Meal” at Woodland Hills Country Club Friday night, 4th District U.S. Rep. Van Hilleary shied away from loosing any broadsides at a possible general election opponent, Democrat Phil Bredesen, and gave the former Nashville mayor credit for sincerity in his recent espousal of a no-new-taxes policy toward state government.

Hilleary was somewhat more grudging in his attitude toward a GOP partymate, Governor Don Sundquist, declining to say that, if nominated, he expected the governor’s support in a general election contest, other than to say, “I would anticipate having the support of every elected Republican in the state.” Would he seek Sundquist’s support?, he was asked. “I seek everybody’s support,” the congressman replied.

“I’ll give the governor some credit,” Hilleary said. “I think he’s working very hard to restructure TennCare right now, and I thnk a lot of the things he’s doing are thing I would do if I were in his shoesÉ.I think we’re moving the right direction.”

But Hilleary made it clear that the twain were far from meeting on the issue of tax reform.

“I think anytime there’s an issue at the forefront that divides a party rather than serves to bind a party, it’s a problematic situation. The income tax is sometjing the vast majority of Republicans don’t want anything to do with it. There’s a few that do.”

Hilleary, who went on to stress education as a key issue in the interview as well as in his prepared remarks, opined that he would be “extraordinarily lucky” if he didn’t have “some primary opponent” next year.

So far only former State Rep. Jim Henry of Kingston has indicated an interest in challenging Hilleary in the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary.

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