Campaigning Tuesday in Memphis, a frequent stop during his current gubernatorial campaign, former Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen (at left, receiving Ben Hooks' endorsement here two weeks ago) gave the city on the Mississippi higher marks for vigor than his own and challenged income-tax adherents in the legislature to rise above any resentment they had over his promise last week to try to repeal such a tax if enacted.
Acknowledging after a talk to supporters at Beale Streets Rum Boogie Café that some such resentment might exist on the part of House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and other legislative proponents of an income-tax solution, Bredesen said, They should just rise above it. Theyre 132 strong, and Im just one of 17 -- Van Hilleary and I are just two of 17 -- candidates for governor. It should just make them more determined to try harder. They should know that candidates are going to say what theyre going to say, and thats all there is to it.
Bredesen, who announced more than a year ago, when he first began campaigning for governor, that he did not advocate a state income tax, has become progressively firmer in his stand against it -- as has potential Republican opponent Hilleary. Both said last week that they would seek to repeal such a tax if one got passed into law during the current session. Bredesen made his statement in response to an earlier one by Hilleary.
Making an effort to account for his ever-hardening position, Bredesen said in Memphis, I am just determined that Van Hilleary is not going to make the income tax an issue -- or the issue -- in this campaign.. When prodded, Bredresen reaffirmed his stance in favor of repeal, though he had made no further mention of it since last week. To tell you the truth, outside of a few people whove made their opinions known publicly, no one has asked me about it.
During his public remarks earlier at the indoor Beale Street venue (selected as a fallback when a rainout was threatened at nearby W.C. Handy Park), Bredesen had basked in the endorsement of 1994 primary foe Bill Morris and Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, who seemed to be apologizing for having supported Republican Don Sundquist, then a Memphian, during Bredesens first try for the governorship eight years ago.
Bredesen had responded with praise for his hosts and for Memphis by saying, This is a more vigorous city than any other city in the state of Tennessee.
During an earlier trip to Memphis, two weekends ago, Bredesen picked up other endorsements, including that of Dr. Ben Hooks, a civil rights pathfinder and former jurist who now serves as president of the National Civil Rights Museum.