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Bill Haslam, Basil Marceaux, and the Tennessee Primary

5:42 PM, Aug 6, 2010 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam won yesterday's GOP primary for governor in Tennessee, the Tennessean reports:

Haslam trounced U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey after a spirited primary in which the other candidates repeatedly hit Haslam over his family's chain of truck stops, Pilot Travel Centers LLC, and his record as mayor of Knoxville.

Haslam outspent his opponents by pouring more than $8.7 million in the primary, including nearly $5.3 million on advertising and media production.

Throughout the campaign, Haslam portrayed himself as a successful businessman, with most of his experience gathered as an executive at Pilot, while simultaneously distancing himself from that company's mistakes and its connections to the oil industry.

Unmentioned by the Tennessean was a fourth Republican candidate for governor, Basil Marceaux, whose bizarre, incoherent pitch to voters on Nashville's NBC affiliate went viral and made the perennial candidate a YouTube star of sorts. Marceaux's last stand (for now) appears to be this equally inchoate campaign video released just days before yesterday's primary:

The dream of a Marceaux administration died last night, as the race narrowed to Haslam and Democrat Mike McWherter, whose father Ned was governor of Tennessee from 1987 to 1995. Haslam and McWherter hope to succeed popular Democratic governor Phil Bredesen. Real Clear Politics indicates this race leans Republican.

A Haslam victory would fall in line with recent Tennessee gubernatorial history. Since Democratic governor Buford Ellington was elected to his second non-consecutive term in 1966, the governorship has regularly alternated between the two parties. In order, Ellington was succeeded by Republican Winfield Dunn, Democrat Ray Blanton, Republican Lamar Alexander, Democrat Ned McWherter, Republican Donald Sundquist, and current Democratic governor Bredesen.

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