Gov. Bill Haslam told a crowd Friday morning that in the coming year the state will have a new governor, a new Speaker of the House and a 30 percent turnover in House members and it was more important than ever to have state Rep. Bill Dunn’s steady hand and institutional memory back in Nashville.
Haslam attended fellow Republican Dunn’s re-election campaign kickoff with some 200 people gathered for breakfast at the Aubrey’s in Powell. It was a mutual appreciation program. Dunn introduced Haslam as the “best governor in the history of Tennessee.” Dunn said he didn’t often bother the governor but he wanted him at his campaign event so he could publicly thank him and to promise that he would continue to pursue Haslam’s goals. He pointed out that under Haslam’s leadership the state has the lowest unemployment rate, the highest graduation rate, low taxes and low debt. He said we needed to keep the state in good shape so we can welcome all those people “fleeing California.”
Dunn will be running for Speaker Pro Tem if re-elected, the second most powerful position in House leadership. Given his longevity and his popularity with members he is favored to win the job. Most of the Knox delegation was on hand at the breakfast, including state Sens. Becky Duncan Massey and Dr. Richard Briggs, state Reps. Harry Brooks, Martin Daniel, Eddie Smith and Roger Kane. Two Republicans from heavily Republican districts and favored to join the House delegation, replacing Brooks and Kane, County Commissioner Dave Wright and Justin Lafferty also attended along with Sheriff Tom Spangler, County Clerk Sherry Witt and Register of Deeds Nick McBride.
Haslam said Dunn’s long tenure means he has been there in the legislature during the good times and the bad times and he knows what it’s like to do the hard things that have to be done at times. “It would be a shame if he didn’t come back and serve in a leadership role going forward.”
Haslam said it was critical to send good people to Nashville. “You have sent us a good group and it matters who you send down there. So, vote for Bill Dunn.”
Haslam said he was riding his bike one Sunday morning recently and a fellow biker stopped at a light with him and they got to talking. The biker realized he was talking to the governor and he had nice things to say about his administration. Then he asked, “What are you doing now?” For now, Haslam is indeed still being governor and has tried to dampen speculation on what he will do when his term is up.