Everyone is putting their money down on Haslam, betting that he'll win because he's already loaded. It's a proud new tradition in Tennessee. Like Phil Bredesen, Bob Corker, Bill Frist and Karl Dean, Haslam could self-finance his campaign if he chose to do so, therefore he won't have to. That's the way campaigns work now. Money is so important that qualifications to hold office don't really matter much anymore.
Haslam himself has an exceedingly thin life story as child of privilege, truck stop manager and mayor of Knoxville. He's fuzzy about what he'd do as governor too. He wants to improve schools. That's about all we know. Who cares? He's rich. And he didn't even earn his money. (Daddy did it.)
Is this any way to pick a governor? Surprisingly, the legislature has a better idea. We're talking about the measure enacted this year calling for the 2010 Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominees to debate in all 95 counties.
Suddenly, voters personally could eyeball the candidates and decide for themselves who is the best. TV ads would lose importance and so would money. This would inject energy into our listless democracy. The candidates actually might have to learn something about the issues. The proposal, sponsored by our buddy Rep. Frank Niceley, urged the two political parties to schedule the debates. Predictably, the party chairs have been totally non-committal. It's such a great idea that it will never happen.