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A fistful of checks for Haslam

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam, left, was appreciative of campaign contribution checks given to him by Stan McNabb at McNabb's Tullahoma car dealership.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam, left, was appreciative of campaign contribution checks given to him by Stan McNabb at McNabb's Tullahoma car dealership.

A weekend political noteload:

They took up a collection of sorts for Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Haslam at the Stan McNabb Automotive dealership in Tullahoma, and McNabb presented the results -- campaign contribution checks -- to Haslam this week.

The showroom was packed on Thursday, where Haslam's bus tour made a stop, and standing at the main desk -- which served as a stage for Haslam and Sen. Bob Corker -- McNabb opened a manila envelope and pulled out a fistful of political currency.

"This folder right here is full of checks," McNabb said. "I just want to show y'all the checks." (photo at left)

Haslam said thank you.

The sight symbolized the announcement this week that Haslam raised $1.2 million in the final campaign reporting period of Oct. 1-23, for a two-year total of more than $13.7 million. The campaign said it has received contributions from 11,613 donors.

State records show the Haslam campaign took in $1,222,220.50 in the final pre-general election reporting period, spending $1,871,019.27 in the run-up to the election. The report shows $3.49 million in self-endorsed Haslam loans to the campaign.

Democratic nominee Mike McWherter showed $573,177.39 in contributions for the period, including a $500,000 loan from McWherter. The McWherter campaign spent $1,145,629.26 in the period. . . .

. . . While Haslam was telling everybody in the state to cool it on the whole gun-carry permit flare-up -- in which Haslam triggered a firestorm by saying he'd sign a no-permit-required bill if he were presented one as governor -- McWherter was talking about permit holders who didn't like Haslam's stand. They want the current process for permits left as it is, McWherter said.

"I had some people stop me in the parking lot in Lawrenceburg, and they're very upset with Bill Haslam's position on this," McWherter said. "They're permit holders, and they don't feel like it is at all a wise policy to allow (just) anybody to be able to carry a handgun.

"They've been through the gun safety courses. They know what those entail, and they know other people who are carrying concealed weapons are people who've been properly screened and have proper gun safety. People who are carrying permits are not at all in favor of this, at least the ones I'm hearing back from." . . .

. . . Should Haslam win the governor's race Tuesday, one of the things to watch for might be his first address to the legislature, because Haslam is saying he will try to persuade the General Assembly to concentrate on jobs and education -- and not guns.

Haslam has gone to great lengths to clarify his position on permits for carrying handguns, primarily because he keeps getting asked about it. He likes the law the way it stands, and he doesn't want a bill that would eliminate the need for permits. The part of the process being overlooked, Haslam says, is the amount of debate that would go on just to get to a point where he would have such a bill to sign.

"If the legislature passed it after due discussion, I would sign it. But I would weigh in," he told reporters. "Leadership doesn't just happen when you sign a bill or don't. It happens all along the way, and I would weigh in on that.

"As governor, I am going to be encouraging the legislature to focus on the big issues in front of us, and the big issues are jobs and a very difficult budget situation. So as governor, I'm going to say let's don't get tangled up in that. Let's go and solve the big issues." . . .

. . . Haslam is fond of quoting Sen. Lamar Alexander's line about unfunded mandates, like the health care reform bill, and how members of Congress who would vote for such a thing ought to be sentenced to go home and be governor and live with it. In that spirit, Alexander, who was governor of Tennessee from 1979-87, was asked this week what advice he would give Haslam if the Knoxville mayor becomes governor.

"I've tried since I've been governor to remember there is only one governor at a time. I've done a pretty good job of keeping my advice to myself and just giving it to my successors when they ask for it," Alexander said. "I think I would just advise Bill Haslam to be himself.

"He's been a good, conservative mayor. He's focused on some tough times in Knoxville. He's done it in a sound way. I think his focus will be on creating good jobs, on improving our education system and on trying to deal with this great big difficult economic problem we have right now in the budget."

Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, didn't stump only for Haslam this week. He campaigned with Republican Christine O'Donnell in her Senate race in Delaware and for Mississippi House candidate Alan Nunnalee. . .

. . . Democratic state Sen. Roy Herron is not letting up on his 8th District congressional opponent, Republican Stephen Fincher, on financial disclosure. Herron's latest question is, "Does Fincher Pay Taxes?"

Herron issued a press release Friday saying it's time for Fincher to come clean and disclose his tax returns.

"Some Tennesseans don't think Stephen Fincher pays any federal taxes," Herron said in a formal statement. "The tax-paying, law-abiding citizens of West and Middle Tennessee deserve to know if Stephen Fincher is one of us, or if he's hiding his income tax returns for a reason."

The Federal Election Commission is looking into Fincher's campaign finances, where a $250,000 bank loan to Fincher is believed to be under scrutiny. . . .

. . . Fincher's decision not to debate Herron, and Republican Scott DesJarlais' decision not to debate Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis in the 4th District, have been publicly explained as reactions to being unfairly characterized as a lawbreaker in Fincher's case and as a man with an unstable past in DesJarlais' case, with DesJarlais' divorce records dredged up.

But in each case, if polls are to be believed, the real reason might be a matter of simply running out the clock. Fincher and DesJarlais are believed to be in position to pull off victories in districts that have been in Democratic hands. Herron and Davis are working hard to keep that from happening.

DesJarlais, when asked Thursday about the heavy-hitting ads in his race, said, "It's disappointing when there are so many important issues facing the country that we can't be on message and talk about those issues. I think the campaign style of our current congressman speaks volumes about his personality.

"We tried for months to talk about issues, and all we seemed to get was mudslinging." . . .

. . . As McWherter has repeatedly pointed to a jobs program in Illinois as a model for what he wants to do as governor, Haslam has his own point to make about another state, Indiana. Haslam frequently cites Indiana's reforms in procurement as something Tennessee should consider.

The idea falls in line with Haslam's overall plan to find efficiency in government, one line of thought in the "thousand little cuts" approach he says will save money in a tight budget. . . .

. . . State Sen. Diane Black, Republican nominee against Democrat Brett Carter in the 6th District congressional race, prefers to be called "congressman" if she wins, same as the preference voiced by 7th District Rep. Marsha Blackburn, meaning if Black and Blackburn win on Tuesday the state will have two women as "congressmen."

Blackburn, heavily favored over Democrat Greg Rabidoux, made an appearance in the 6th District this week, with Black in attendance, and addressed a crowd in support of Haslam.

Blackburn declared, "The people of the 6th District can help America carry out the best shovel-ready project that there is -- firing Nancy Pelosi."

Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House, seems to have won the prize as the most dissed political figure in Tennessee, even though Pelosi is from California. Democrats Herron and Carter have distanced themselves from Pelosi, and judging from television ads and campaign one-liners, Republicans have managed to make Pelosi the ultimate political villain of the year in the state, apparently beating out early leader Lane Kiffin, the former Tennessee football coach, who had nothing to do with politics.


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