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VOL. 124 | NO. 130 | Monday, July 6, 2009

McWherter Talks About Personal Identity, Jobs Creation

By Bill Dries

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The Republican pack of candidates for governor in 2010 emerged early this year, but Democrats are assembling a pack of their own for the governor’s mansion.

Among the Democratic pack is Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, the son of former Gov. Ned McWherter.

However, the younger McWherter is trying to establish his own identity with voters, especially in Memphis, which is predominantly Democratic in its voting patterns.

His declared rivals include former State Rep. Kim McMillan of Clarksville, State Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden and Nashville businessman Ward Cammack. Still to declare his intentions is state Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle of Memphis.

Q: How is your campaign so far?

Mike McWherter

A: Campaigns do start early these days. I’ve been in this race about five weeks now. And I’ve found the reception I’ve gotten all across the state has been unbelievably good. A lot of people remember my father and his term in office and they’re very receptive to my candidacy. But I’m going to run as my own man. I’ve got to run as my own man – not dad’s son.

Q: How much does the recent legislative session figure into the race for governor, particularly the budget debate at the end of the session?

A: I think the legislature finally got a good budget. The governor presented a good budget and I think they passed a good budget. That’s the important thing. It’s amazing that it takes them so long to come together. … All in all I think they did the responsible thing.”

Q: What do you see as the dominant issue in the race?

A: No question it’s jobs and economic development all across this state. The state unemployment rate went to 10.7 percent in May. And that really does not even include the underemployed. Those who were working five days a week are not working four days a week.

We have got to work on creating jobs from one end of this state to the other. And I think we are going to have to do it on a regional basis. You can’t do it in individual cities and county by county. You’ve got to do it on a regional basis. And we’ve got to get all of our cities and counties working together to attract industry and get a lot of our people retrained. A lot of these jobs have simply gone away. And we’re going to have to work to get (people) retrained so they are capable of entering the work force and filling these new jobs that will be coming.”

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