Gov. Bredesen stopped off in Knoxville today on the first day of his statewide campaign kickoff. Here are some photos and notes from his speech. (Click images for larger view.)
It was a picture perfect day in terms of the downtown riverside setting at Volunteer Landing, not to mention the perfect weather. All the local media were there. We estimated 150 to 200 supporters were on hand.
Here is Gov. Bredesen arriving to the tune of Rocky Top.
Gov. Bredesen waits as Rep. Joe Armstrong introduces him. (Are politicians trained to spot cameras in the crowd and look right into the lens? Or was this just a lucky shot?)
Gov. Bredesen speaking.
Bredesen started his speech by noting that campaigns are partisan and ugly, but when it's all over everyone has to come together to solve problems. He acknowledged his support from traditionally Republican East Tennessee, and particularly the Democrats of Knox County who helped elect him.
He said he is proud of his accomplishments, which include setting the state back on track, a balanced budget with no new taxes, education reforms, and his work on public safety.
On TennCare, he said that he took painful steps which he recognizes aren't popular. He noted his work on alternatives including Cover Tennessee and Access Tennessee.
He mentioned his Pre-K initiative, and his goal for every parent who wants it to have access to Pre-K.
On jobs, he said the state must work with local governments and local businesses, and applauded the link here in East Tennessee between Oak Ridge and UT.
He spoke of personal responsibility with regards to health care. He said that people should contribute financially to the state's health care system, and contribute by staying healthy.
On education, he asked parents to step up and instill educational values in their children.
His speech was well received by the mostly Democratic crowd. The Pre-K initiative seemed popular.
After the speech, Gov. Bredesen was gracious with his time, shaking hands and talking to constituents.
He also spent time with candidates, including Ursula Bailey, candidate for General Sessions Court Judge, Division IV, who asked me to take her photo with the Governor:
In related news, I spoke with Knox County Commission seat 5-C candidate Tom Salter who attended the event. I congratulated him on the energetic campaign he is running. He says they are working hard and seeing results. He mentioned, though, that the court hearings on term limits and the charter are hampering campaigns such as his. For example, he tried to schedule a debate before a community group in his district, but the group wasn't able to organize it because they don't yet know who he will be running against. He predicted that his campaign and many others will kick into high gear once all the court hearings are settled.
I also spoke with Knox County Elections Administrator Greg Mackay, who needless to say has had a hectic couple of months during which he says his phone has been ringing off the hook. He said things are settling down a little now, and he's just waiting for the final rulings so he can put together a ballot.
Greg also brought one of the new E-Slate voting machines that will be used in the August elections for the first time. He and his crew were demonstrating how to use them to interested voters. They were also registering new voters.
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