I have tried to remain as impartial as I could in the matter of the Tennessee Governor’s race since I am a candidate in August for the Republican State Executive Committee in the 4th Senate District. Unlike some other candidates who are running for those positions (and I mean no disrespect toward other candidates, nor will I disparage an SEC candidate from endorsing candidates if they choose) I am from the “old school,” I do not think members of the SEC should go about endorsing candidates publicly in a contested Republican Primary, so I have chosen not to take an active role in a couple of campaigns that I otherwise would be personally involved in. This commitment has been made somewhat difficult because before deciding to become a candidate for the State Executive Committee, I had made a public endorsement in the Governor’s race. However, when I chose to run for the SEC, I distanced myself from that person’s campaign and chose not to be active. I take messages, mail, and communication from all Republican candidates, and I will support the Republican nominee for Governor and all offices on the November ballot.
One candidate for Governor is trying my commitment to remain impartial in the other direction, however-not to criticize. That person is the current incumbent Congressman for the 3rd District, Zach Wamp. Wamp has, for the last several weeks, made it his mission to attack one of his opponents, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, because Pilot Corporation-which Haslam shares ownership with among members of his family-sells lottery tickets and (God forbid) Haslam’s brother Jimmy has part-ownership of a couple of video poker machines (or at least leases space in a couple of truckstops to the owners):
In campaigning for governor, Zach Wamp has continued to press Republican rival Bill Haslam’s links to gambling operations through Pilot Corp., both in selling lottery tickets within Tennessee and hosting other gambling activities outside the state.
In response, Haslam campaign officials and Pilot CEO James “Jimmy” Haslam III, brother of the candidate, have spelled out the arrangements under which the family-owned company sells lottery tickets at in-state stores and derives income from legal gambling activity in travel centers in a handful of other states.
In Nevada, Pilot has “partnered with Leisure Gaming in the operation of hundreds of 24-hour slot machines throughout the state.” These are also rental arrangements, according to Haslam supporters. The Wamp campaign has e-mailed photos of Nevada stations with signs declaring, “Pilot Travel Center and Casino.”
Stop the presses, interrupt all regular programming and music over the airwaves and make sure Tennesseans know that the Haslams have the audacity to try and make a profit off of gaming machines-in Nevada. Perish the thought! How dare the Haslam family attempt to make money off of gambling in their truck stops in States where it is perfectly legal. As for Pilot selling lottery tickets (something Wamp is lately trying to criticize Bill Haslam for), it is understandable that Washington has made Wamp slightly divorced from reality after all those years there. However, if my memory serves me right, didn’t Zach Wamp’s children receive lottery-based scholarships to help further their college educations? If that is correct, Wamp’s righteous indignation has the smell of the base alloy of hypocrisy.
Former Congressman Bill Jenkins (R) has said that when Wamp first came to Washington, he was often fidgety and hyper and Jenkins would joke with Wamp: “Did you take your Ritalin today, boy?” Zach Wamp’s latest attacks on Bill Haslam are sending the signal that it is Wamp who is either off his medication or off the reservation.
Zach Wamp is a good man, no one can dispute that, but good Governors don’t attack their political opponents for making a perfectly legal profit. If you want to attack Bill Haslam or any of your opponents Congressman, go after their record. If you can’t do that, you are just running your mouth-and you almost certainly won’t be Tennessee’s next Governor.