Haslam Has $2 Million In The Bank For Governor Bid

Monday, March 9, 2009

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam said Monday he has traveled some 8,000 miles criss-crossing the state and collected $2 million in campaign funds for his gubernatorial bid.

Speaking to the Chattanooga Pachyderm Club, he said the $2 million is "in the bank" and is not pledges.

Mayor Haslam said it may be early to begin a campaign, but he said he is looking forward to meeting people across the state and focusing on the issues the state must deal with.

He said the next governor will face challenges with the state budget, with creating new jobs and with reforming education.

Mayor Haslam said the state is already $1 billion in the hole due to the recession and will likely be in worse fiscal shape by the time the next governor is sworn in.

He noted that Tennessee is dependent on the sales tax, which runs low in times of economic downturns. But he said he does not favor imposing an income tax and pledged that he would not be part of doing so.

He said state officials need to put more money aside in flush times so it is available for downturns such as is now being experienced.

He cited his experience in job creation in Knoxville, saying it is now listed as one of the 10 best cities in the country to operate a business.

The mayor cited his experience in his family's Pilot Oil business, which his father began by "buying one Esso station that nobody else wanted" in Gate City, Va., 50 years ago - the year he was born. The company had 800 employees in 1980 and now has 14,000.

On the subject of education, he said he favors setting high standards for students, including the new high school requirements for four years each of math and science.

He also favors better training for principals and superintendents.

Mayor Haslam said he got into politics after asking former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker why he would give up a successful construction business to run for mayor. He said then-mayor Corker told him of the opportunities for serving citizens and for government problem solving utilizing sound business principles.

He said he then ran for mayor of Knoxville "and I have loved it. It is the best job I have ever had." He is in his second term.

He said part of the gubernatorial campaign will be to get his name known across the state.

He said when Bob Corker began running for the U.S. Senate only 11 percent of Tennesseans knew who he was.

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