The survey was by the respected Rasmussen polling service, and it showed Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam doing best among all four candidates — including two other Republicans, Chattanooga congressman Zach Wamp and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey of Blountville; and Democrat Mike McWherter, a Jackson businessman whose father, Ned Ray McWherter, governed Tennessee for two terms.
In sample match-ups, all three Republicans led McWherter, except among African Americans, where the Democrat held the edge. But Haslam’s overall lead was larger, 50 percent to 32 percent among likely voters expressing a preference.
By comparison, Wamp and Ramsey both led McWherter by the identical margin of 44 percent to 33 percent.
Haslam did best on the favorability scale as well, scoring at 66 percent for the combined categories of “very favorable” and “somewhat favorable.” Comparable composite scores were: Wamp, 51 percent; Ramsey, 46 percent; and McWherter, 45 percent.
Voters in all categories and political persuasions expressed a favorable opinion of current governor Phil Bredesen, with Republicans weighing in at 66 percent “very” and “somewhat” favorable, and Democrats with 79 percent for the two categories.
As it happened, on the day before the results of the Rasmussen poll were revealed, showing him leading the gubernatorial pack, Haslam sat down with the Memphis Flyer editorial staff for a no-holds-barred group interview. Here, in four segments, is the result. (Video and titles by Chris Davis)
Part 1: On guns-in-bars; on journalists' questions; on who's the "least loony candidate;" on Zach Wamp and Bob Corker; on saving the Med; on whether to opt out of the new federal health-care plan —
Part 2: on immigration policy in Tennessee; on playing fair with Memphis; on the University of Memphis and higher education policy in general; on the Gulf catastrophe and energy policy —
Part 3: on TVA and the Kingston coal-ash spill; on "recusing" himself from a possible ethanol measure; on who should regulate petroleum issues under his administration; on possible conflicts of interest in general —
Part 4: on his "Memphis plan;" on not disclosing his income-tax returns; on comparing himself to the other candidates; on why Republicans have gained an edge over Democrats statewide; on his relations with African American voters —