As his Republican rival, Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam, was knocking on doors in Germantown Monday, 3rd District congressman Zach Wamp, virtually simultaneously, was the beneficiary of a big-ticket meet and greet elsewhere in the elite Memphis suburb. He met with reporters beforehand, surrounded by two celebrity well-wishers from the world of country music, John Rich and Larry Gatlin. (Rich announced he would later be playng a set at the Hard Rock Café, and Wamp promised to join him.)
Wamp expressed optimism about his campaign, contending that he would be the beneficiary of a “conservative crest” that was happening in Tennessee as well as in Florida, where ultra-conservative candidate Marco Rubio has apparently surged ahead of Governor Charlie Crist in the ongoing Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.
“He may be the only one who doesn’t realize that so far. But a lot of other people know it, they talk about it everywhere we go. And so I respect him as lieutenant governor. That’s exactly where he’ll be on August 6.”
Wamp was asked about solutions for Memphis’ financially beleagured Med and reminded that he had tentatively agreed a month ago to a sign a letter from the Shelby County Commission backing the principle that a federal dollar generated by the Med should be a dollar routed by the state exclusively to the Med.
Expressing a mite of caution about that commitment, Wamp said he’d have to see the letter (which hasn’t been sent to gubernagtorial candidates yet and won’t be until April 1) but agreed “the principle is right.” He said the main order of business would be to work with the state’s congressional delegation to convince Arkansas and Missiippi to contribute their fair share to the Med’s upkeep.
That was also the approach of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kim McMillan, the former state House majority leader from Clarksville who met with a group of Democrats in Collierville on Monday.
Just as Wamp expressed no fear of his rivals for the Republican nomination, McMillan was ebulliently confident of her ability to hold her own in the primary against Jackson businessman Mike McWherter and against whoever she had to face in the general election, if nominated..
McMillan expressed a belief that her experience and “passion and desire to improve things for Tennessee” will ultimately weight the election results in her favor, despite the fact that she is low person on the fundraising totem pole, having reported only $100,000 on hand in her January financial disclosure.
“I’ve always been the last woman standing,” she said, agreeing with a reporter’s jest to that effect.