Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Dollar Bills, Y'all

One of the many things that I admire about Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey is his straightforward-and often blunt-honesty. Ramsey admitted to the Kingsport Times-News that whether he follows through on the notion of running for Governor in 2010 depends on one factor alone:

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s decision whether to run
for governor in 2010 will hinge on one prime concern — money.

The Blountville Republican, during a meeting Monday between members of the Times-News Editorial Board and Northeast Tennessee lawmakers, wouldn’t say how much money he would have to raise for a possible gubernatorial campaign.

But Ramsey, who expects to be re-elected as lieutenant governor and state Senate speaker by Senate members next week, seemed more concerned with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam’s anticipated GOP bid for the governor’s job because of his ability to personally finance his own campaign.

“On name recognition alone I probably would be in the lead right now statewide, but it’s amazing what a few million dollars on television can change,” Ramsey said. “If I can’t raise the money that I think would be adequate or enough to win, then there’s no need to be getting into it.”

Should Ramsey choose to run, obviously my support goes to him. However, Ron Ramsey is right that it will take volumes of cold hard cash to beat Bill Haslam in a primary. I would love to see Haslam's clock get cleaned by anyone, and his primary defeat would bring about in me a brief Heathian moment ("Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice!"), but it will likely take someone who can match Haslam dollar for dollar. We already know what Haslam money is capable of, because in 2006 that money helped buy a Republican primary and ultimately a federal Senate seat for Bob Corker.

Ramsey also may be underestimating the incredible power that he already has. In Tennessee, the Governor can do very little without legislative approval, and the General Assembly is so strong-both constitutionally as well as practically-that it can rightfully be said that the Speaker of the House and Lieutenant Governor (Speaker of the Senate) are the people who really run this State. Ramsey's position as Lieutenant Governor looks as though it will be safe for several years at this point, more than long enough for Bill Haslam to have cycled out of politics and Ramsey to have developed the extensive Statewide network that he will need to raise massive amounts of money so that any future Haslam-like threat can be beaten back.

Ron Ramsey has the important ally of time on his side, so it might be well for him to take the time to enjoy what he has achieved and take the years necessary to become a Statewide frontrunner regardless of how much money his opponents might spend.

(Hat Tip: Stacey Campfield)

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