NASHVILLE—Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey may have his differences with Gov. Bill Haslam, but Ramsey said Thursday he has no intention of seeking a 2014 rematch with Haslam, who defeated him in last year’s Republican gubernatorial primary.
“No,” Ramsey told reporters Thursday. “Period. Under no circumstances. Not even on my radar screen.”
Ramsey said he “had a wonderful experience running for governor in 2010, and if anything, Gov. Haslam and I became better friends through that process, and I cannot see any circumstance where I would run for governor again.”
The speaker, whose position also carries the title of lieutenant governor, sought to downplay recent disagreements he and Haslam have had in areas such as Ramsey’s push to abolish collective bargaining for teachers.
Haslam has swung his support behind a plan to limit but not end union negotiations.
Ramsey and Haslam recently put up dueling posts on their Facebook pages about the issue. They also have disagreed about whether state Supreme Court justices and the state attorney general should be appointed or elected.
Ramsey has become a rallying point for conservative hardliners and tea party activists, who have been critical of Haslam. The speaker has denounced their sometimes-harsh criticism of Haslam.
The speaker accused reporters of exaggerating his differences with Haslam, but the topic has captivated Republicans, Democrats and independent observers.
Tennessee Conservative Union Chairman Lloyd Daugherty said in a recent interview that he told Ramsey that, in his opinion, the Senate speaker/lieutenant governor position is “just as powerful if not more powerful” than that of governor.
He cited Ramsey’s predecessor, Democrat John Wilder, who served 36 years as speaker, as the ultimate example.
“He was the guy you knew to deal with,” Daugherty said. “Governors are going to come and go, but there’s no term limits on the speaker, the lieutenant governor.”
The governor is limited to two four-year terms.
Haslam has talked about cutting rules and regulations, and Ramsey said he is not trying to snatch Halsam’s thunder when it comes to cracking down on government bureaucracy.
However, Ramsey this week formally unveiled a website, TNREDTAPE.com, which is intended to serve as a clearinghouse of sorts for businesses with complaints about bureaucratic gripes. The “Redtape” part of the website name stands for Ridiculous Employee Decisions That Affect People Everyday.
Noting that he gave Haslam a head’s up before his news conference about the website, Ramsey said, “I guess the only concern he had at all was legitimate in the fact that now those departments that we’re going to try to cut the red tape in are his departments.
“But,” Ramsey said, “I explained to him that I think this is the perfect time to do that because he hasn’t put his stamp on those departments. And this is something we can do in unison.”
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...