It looks like there is another major Republican candidate for the 2010 governor's race, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey.
NashvillePost.com has confirmed that phone calls are being made to supporters and contributors of the lieutenant governor informing them that an exploratory committee is being formed to promote the candidacy of Ramsey and stating that he is running for governor.
According to sources, Thompson Smith, a longtime fundraiser for GOP candidates and Ramsey's leadership political action committee RAAMPAC, has in the last day begun calling potential campaign donors and letting them know of Ramsey's plans. Political insiders are telling NashvillePost.com that a "significant amount of activity" has occurred in the last few days in preparation for the calls.
While both Ramsey and Smith declined to comment on the story, Smith has spent an inordinate amount of time in the halls of the State Capitol, something that began to raise more than a few eyebrows.
According to state law, Ramsey is not allowed to raise campaign funds while the legislature is in session. But speculation would be that calls are being made now in order to encourage potential donors not to commit to any of the other Republican gubernatorial candidates.
Already in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary are Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, Chattanooga Congressman Zach Wamp and Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons. The biggest beneficiary of this GOP development in the short term will be Gibbons, who seems to be relying on a West Tennessee base to propel him through the primary.
Ramsey, however, is likely to quickly have a strong statewide organization resulting from Republican members of the State Senate assisting his campaign out of loyalty to his leadership of their caucus.