Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey met with members of the media today in advance of next week's opening of the Tennessee General Assembly and spoke about the 2010 governor's race and the upcoming session.
In regard to the governor's race – for which there already three Republican candidates in Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Congressman Zach Wamp of Chattanooga – Ramsey said that he wanted to get close to the end of session before making a decision whether he will run.
Ramsey said that he was "leaning in that direction" when asked if he was running and added, "The public couldn't go wrong with any of those choices, but I'd probably be the best." He said that he has made no secret of the fact that he would like to be governor but was in "no hurry."
Discussing the opening of legislative session next week, Ramsey predicted that Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen will have more trouble with House Democrats than he would with any Republican. He said that among the issues that will be at the forefront of the session will be education and the judicial selection process.
"I bet the Tennessee Bar Association and trial lawyers wish they had taken the compromise legislation last year," said Ramsey when talking about the judicial selection process. "It was very generous."
Ramsey said he expects that a judicial selection process will be put in place this year that falls somewhere in between last year's proposal and the direct election of judges without a retention vote.
Asked if he would have any Democrats serving as senate committee chairs this year as he did in the last session, Ramsey said "No." The only Democratic member still in the legislature who has served as a committee chair for him was Nashville State Sen. Thelma Harper. Ramsey said the reason that she was not being retained as a chair was because Republicans had a mandate from Tennessee voters and another reason was "she had spent a lot of time in Clarksville."
The Clarksville reference alluded to work that Harper did volunteering for newly elected Democratic State Sen. Tim Barnes, who became the Democratic nominee after incumbent Democrat Rosalind Kurita saw her 19-vote margin of victory voided by the state party.
Kurita had voted for Ramsey as lieutenant governor two years ago, thus ending decades of Democratic rule in the body. Ramsey said that Barnes would be seated without GOP objection.
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