Haslam, who has made repeated visits to Memphis in his own quest for traction in next year’s gubernatorial race, was here again last week, going door-to-door in a Bartlett neighborhood. “Obviously you can’t visit every household in the state, but we’re doing this three times a week, alternating west and middle and east. Then we start the cycle all over again,” Halsam said.
The Knoxville mayor made the rounds in Memphis, meeting with key supporters, addressing the East Memphis Rotary Club and stopping by the Church Health Center, among other stops..That he still has some miles to go in his quest to get known was indicated when he knocked on one door in Bartlett and was greeted by a woman who said, “Who are you? A state senator?” (Her question may have beenn prompted by the fact that her neighbor across the street is Jim Coley, a GOP state House member.
Haslam, whose family owns the Pilot Oil empire and who is the fundraising leader among all candidates (with some $3.5 million in receipts thus far), dismissed a recent straw poll among Republicans in Wilson County that showed Chattanooga congressman Zach Wamp well ahead and himself a weak third..
“If you look at straw polls historically,” Haslam said, “They haven’t been of much significance in determining elections.” He noted that eventual U.S.; Senate winner Bob Corker did dismally in the same poll before the 2006 election, “finishing behind somebody who wasn’t even in the race.” The bottom line: “We’re personally not worrying about straw polls now.”
(Of straw votes in general, Democrat Jim Kyle,the Shelby County Democrats' favorite son among gubernatorial candidates, chose to put it this way while appearing at a party picnic in Memphis last weekend: “The Wilson County poll was won by Democrats. Only 141 people voted. The week before, in a comparably-sized county, Rutherford County, 320 people voted in the Democratic straw poll.” )
On the issue of gun legislation, Haslam, a professed “strong” supporter of the 2nd Amendment, defended his support of a recent local-option proposal in Knoxville assessing a modest fine on violators of injunctions which the city council has continued against carrying guns in restaurants and on parkgrounds.