bill haslam

Haslam: Trump should be a uniter, not a divider and white supremacy is ‘wrong at all times’

Excerpt from a News Sentinel report on comments by Gov. Bill Haslam after a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Knoxville Thursday:

“I’ll say this, during the campaign when then candidate Trump was interviewed he said people will be surprised that I’m a uniter (sic) not a divider, and I think this is a perfect time for the president to work on uniting the country,” he said.

“We have a country that is very divided, incredibly divided and race is a part of that,” Haslam continued. “It’s not all of that, but it’s part of that. And this would be a great time for the president to lead and unite the country.”

He said white nationalists are just wrong.

“There are certain things that are obvious and there are certain things that are complex,” he said. “To me, it’s obvious that white supremacy and neo-Nazism is wrong at all times (and) everywhere. Period.”

Protesters urge removal of N.B. Forrest bust; Haslam backs the idea

After demonstrators at the Tennessee state capitol called for removing a bust of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest now housed in the building today, Gov. Bill Haslam issued a statement saying he favors the idea. The protest — like others around the nation — was partly inspired by last weekend’s violent events in Charlottesville, Va., involving protests and counter-protests over removing a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

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Florida’s governor trying to ‘poach jobs’ from Tennessee?

The Tampa Bay Times questions whether Florida Gov. Rick Scott is “breaking one of his cardinal rules” with a trip to Nashville aimed at convincing Tennessee companies to relocate into the Sunshine State. His effort to “poach jobs from the Volunteer State” follows similar past trips to California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New York – all states with Democratic governors.

Tennessee, as the Times notes, has a Republican governor – Bill Haslam.

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Haslam wants review of Gatlinburg wildfire; doesn’t want to be a ‘Monday morning quarterback’

Gov. Bill Haslam says a review of the way state and local officials handled the Sevier County wildfires should be open and transparent but he doesn’t want to be a “Monday morning quarterback,” reports the News Sentinel.

“I don’t think there’s anything to hide from anything that I know about,” Haslam said, speaking to the media after meeting with a group of community college leaders in Nashville. “There’s been some remarkable stories of people coming through in a very dangerous and obviously critical situation.

“So from where I stand, there’s nothing I’ve seen anywhere in the process that somebody needs to hide anything. I don’t know why that would be.”

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Haslam sees no change in fluctuating cattle prices

Gov. Bill Haslam’s response to the first question posed – on cattle prices – during his appearance Friday at the Washington County Farmer’s Co-Op, as reported by the Johnson City Press:

“I don’t think we’re going to see a world where that fluctuation (in beef prices) goes away,” Haslam answered. “I know that makes it incredibly hard for your all’s business and I’d love to tell you different. If I could be the king instead of the governor, I could make it different, but my sense is the price fluctuations we’ve seen in all different products is probably not going to change.”

The JCP reports the governor was “sporting a clean pair of blue jeans, polished cowboy boots and a white plaid shirt” at the event and:

Before making his way to the Grainger County Tomato Festival, the governor made sure to purchase one of the Washington County Farmers Co-Op’s signature red hats, worn by many of those in attendance, to take back to Nashville.

TN employment rate dropped to 3.6 percent in June, lowest rate recorded

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips today announced Tennessee’s unemployment rate for June 2017 was 3.6 percent, the lowest in Tennessee recorded history.

The June 2017 preliminary seasonally adjusted rate surpasses the previous low of 3.7 percent from March 2000. The state has not experienced an unemployment rate below 4.0 percent since it was 3.9 percent in February 2001.

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TN leads nation in students seeking federal aid for attending college (73% of high school grads)

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the state has set a new record and for the third year in a row has led the nation in the number of students filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Nearly three quarters of all Tennessee high school seniors—73.5 percent—filed the FAFSA for the 2017-18 academic year, a requirement for Tennessee students to be eligible for both federal and state aid, including Tennessee Promise and the HOPE Lottery Scholarship.

The FAFSA filing rate is important because it is a key indicator of the number of students planning to enroll in postsecondary education as the state pursues the Drive to 55, which aims to have 55 percent of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2025.

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On setting a state record for campaign spending and candidate self-financing

Nine months before the April qualifying deadline for gubernatorial candidates, those officially seeking the office have already collected $8.4 for their campaigns — $3.4 million through self-funding.

“If we have tight primary races and a tight competitive general election this one could hit $35 or $40 million,” said Kent Syler, a political science professor at Middle Tennessee State University, tells The Tennessean in a report noting the 2018 gubernatorial campaign is shaping up to set a state spending record.

A new state campaign spending record is possible, even probable. But the current state spending records are arguably somewhat higher than the figures cited elsewhere that include only spending by general election candidates, not losers in the primary. It’s a virtual certainty, on the other hand, that the developing gubernatorial races will set a record for self-financing.

 

The most expensive Tennessee political campaign so far was the U.S. Senate race in 2006, won by Republican Bob Corker over Democrat Harold Ford Jr. in the November general election. Corker and Ford combined spent about $34 million with Corker using $4.1 million of personal funds.  Corker’s two primary opponents, Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary, spent about $2.2 million each, so the campaign total was more than $38 million. (Corker’s total was $18.6M; Ford $15.3M.)

The most expensive Tennessee gubernatorial campaign was in 2010, when Bill Haslam defeated two serious Republican primary opponents, followed by a much easier win over Democrat Mike McWherter in November. Haslam spent $16.7 million with $3.5 million in self-financing and McWherter $3.4 million and the overall campaign cost is often pegged at $20 million. But if you add the two GOP primary candidates Haslam defeated, the total was about $27 million. Ron Ramsey spent $3.1 million and Zach Wamp $4 million.

As for the Tennessee record of self-spending by one individual, it’s Corker’s $4.1 million. That’s roughly the same amount of self-spending for all candidates combined in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign — Haslam’s $3.5 million combined with Ramsey’s $200,000 loan to his campaign and Wamp’s $400,000 loan. (Ramsey and Wamp were able to repay their loans; Haslam’s loan has not been repaid.)

Ergo, Boyd is halfway to a record for self-financing with the filing of his first disclosure and Lee is not far behind. Corker and Haslam both waited until much later in their campaigns to put in significant personal money. And if multimillionaire U.S. Rep. Diane Black gets into the gubernatorial campaign race, she can be expected to quickly put in a substantial amount of personal funding in playing catchup against primary opponents who are already traversing the state and planning big advertising efforts.

Note: The Memphis Flyer today has some further musing from an old guy on the gubernatorial campaign HERE, including the suggestion that Boyd is the frontrunner at this embryonic stage of the proceedings. See also previous post listing basic figures from initial filings of candidate campaign finance reports HERE.

University of Tennessee President Bill Haslam?

Victor Ashe speculates in his latest column that Bill Haslam might follow in the footsteps of Lamar Alexander in becoming president of the University of Tennessee as a first job after leaving office as governor.

Current UT President Joe DiPietro, who celebrates his 66th birthday today (Wednesday) is under no pressure to retire, Ashe says, but he recently bought a home in the Chicago area, where he has family. And when Haslam leaves office, DiPietro may be less than enthusiastic about dealing with a new governor, a new state House speaker and hostile legislators — a part of the UT president’s job.

(S)peculation is already starting as to what Haslam may do when he retires in mid-January 2019. He turns 60 in August 2018 and is in excellent health. It is unlikely he would be offered a post with President Trump given his opposition to Trump last fall, and the U.S. Senate seat held by Lamar Alexander does not open until 2020, when Alexander may seek another term anyway.

Haslam certainly has the resources and instincts to lead in philanthropy, and he would be excellent at it. He could return to Pilot Flying J, but that does not appear to be where his passion lies. He was recently asked on a local Sunday talk show by Susan Richardson Williams and Billy Stair about possibly becoming the next UT president.

He demurred on a direct response but did not reject it when asked. He questioned whether he would want to lobby the legislature for more UT funding. There is recent precedent on this when Lamar Alexander became UT president following his two terms as governor. There is no doubt that if Haslam wanted the position, the current board, every member of which he appointed, would support him overwhelmingly without debate.

Some faculty might oppose him without a competitive search, but they do not have a vote. Employees might raise issues on whether he would implement outsourcing as a new president as he advocated as governor. However, other governors have become university presidents and done well. Terry Sanford in North Carolina and David Boren in Oklahoma come to mind.

Note: The referenced TV talk show was WBIR’s “Inside Politics.” Video of Haslam’s appearance on the show can be found on the show’s website, HERE.

Haslam: ‘I hate to see us get carried away’ with city schools seceding from county systems

Gov. Bill Haslam, who signed into law a 2014 bill that let six Shelby County towns seceded from the county school system and formed their own districts, is voicing some misgivings about a proposal for Brentwood schools leaving the Williamson County system, reports The Tennessean.

The Shelby County situation has drawn some national attention and is already being used as a model for Signal Mountain schools to secede from Hamilton County. (Previous post HERE.) Brentwood is the most prosperous city in the state’s most prosperous county.

 “I tend to think the whole secession idea — I hate to see us get carried away with that,” Haslam told reporters during a press conference Wednesday. “There’s always been a benefit to communities that are all part of one area, and being a community together and figuring out our problems, whether it be rural schools or urban schools, or whatever the challenges may be.”

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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