Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has easily won the Republican nomination for governor of Tennessee, to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen — and he perhaps didn’t even need the “silly vote” to be split between two other candidates.
With only 7% of precincts reporting, Haslam has 51%, Congressman Zach Wamp has 27%, and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has 21%. It must be noted, however, that these returns represent much, much more than a mere 7% of the total ballots, due to the fact that it includes a large number of the early votes. As such, Haslam has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press.
As we’d previously noted, this primary saw the other two candidates seeming to trip over each other to be more right wing than the other. Ramsey speculated that Islam might not be covered by the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion, on the grounds that it’s not really a religion but is instead a “cult.” Meanwhile, Wamp flirted with the idea of Tennessee seceding from the United States (again), if the 2010 and 2012 elections did not go well. (Fun fact: A disliked election result in 1860 was the final straw that led to Southern secession last time.)
Meanwhile, Haslam only tacked slightly rightward, abandoning his former ties to New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s gun control efforts. And as the only “sensible party” candidate in the race, he obviously did quite well. He now faces Democratic businessman Mike McWherter, son of Dem former Gov. Ned McWhether. The TPM Poll Average gives Haslam an early lead of 48.0%-30.0%.