Thanks to Ken’s efforts along with others at ConserVOLiance.com, a group of East Tennessee bloggers treated to a meeting with Tennessee Gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp. To his credit, @zachwamp requested these meetups himself in a message to @bluecollarmuse on Twitter. I think this is important for two reasons. First of all, it says to me that Mr. Wamp sees the value in engaging people online and takes initiative to do so. Second, it encourages other candidates to do the same. So we’ll hopefully get a chance to meet other candidates in a small group setting like this.
I’ll give him this…he did his homework. I think he may have checked out a few of the blogs of those who would be attending the meetup tonight. Or, more than likely, his researcher checked them out…dunno. Case in point–he invoked the name of Ron Paul 5 or 6 times throughout his talk. The libertarian streak (he claimed he has one of those too) was pretty strong in the room. He also made a point to champion homeschooling and gun rights early on.
He most definitely had checked out Frankly Speaking. She asked tough questions, and he gave…answers to some of them. He even pre-empted a question he expected her to ask on term limits, saying he himself was bothered by the fact that held his job as Congressman for so long. I believe him when he says we wishes he could’ve/would’ve left Washington earlier, but I suspect that his extended stay has a lot to do with fact that he knew Phil Bredesen was pretty much untouchable in 2006.
When asked about bringing conservatives back to the GOP and keeping them from going third party (the term “rogue” was actually used–heh), he brought up the very valid point that the only way to change the system was from within–if you wait for a third party to change things you are going to be waiting forever. It’s a great point, and since he made it himself, I will have high expectations of him to walk that walk if he’s elected governor.
As for his libertarian streak, Congressman Wamp didn’t seem to be very aware of a reasonably popular idea amongst libertarians and constitutional conservatives to repeal the 17th amendment. It seems like a current conservative/libertarian U.S. Congressman with aspirations of becoming a governor would want to do everything possible to return the power of the States back to the States, right?
Don’t get me wrong, I liked a lot of what I heard. And as The Missus pointed out when I was recapping the meetup to her, this is exactly what I hoped for from Ron Paul’s Presidential campaign–I wanted the conversation shifted to the libertarian direction. I’m seeing a lot of evidence that the GOP is starting to notice that (1) young people can be excited and mobilized by the concepts of liberty and (2) they pretty much stunk the place up for eight solid years.
As far as governor-specific questions go, I heard two things from Mr. Wamp that I really liked. One, “absolutely no income tax”…I love that. Two, he would like to look at eliminating the estate tax in TN. His point was that the state collects $93M in estate taxes each year, but that could probably be made up in increased sales tax revenues if retirees were encouraged to move here (and consequently spend money) because of the elimination of the estate tax.
As I said, I think Congressman Wamp, and the rest of the establishment Republicans for that matter, are starting to get the picture that they need to return to a “get-government-out-of-my-life” message. I don’t think he has the act down pat yet, but I give him credit for trying. I’m already more interested in this race!
And let me say this…
I greatly appreciate Zach Wamp’s willingness to meet with us and commend him for spending only 1/4 of the time speaking and 3/4 of the time fielding what were, at times, very tough questions from people he was 100% sure would put their impressions on Al Gore’s internet for all the world to see.
Links to others who were in attendance are coming! Here are thoughts form Blue Collar Muse.
- Ron Paul Supporting Chuck Baldwin
- Republican Debates at the Reagan Library Part I
- Alaska Libertarians for Ron Paul