Gov. Bill Haslam made a quick stop in Murfreesboro on Tuesday, running by Maple Street Grill on the Public Square for lunch and a handshaking session with local officials, political candidates and Republican supporters.
Haslam, who is facing nominal competition in the Republican primary Thursday, said he is traveling the entire state of Tennessee “to remind people of the importance of voting.” Having been mayor of Knoxville and seeking a second term as governor, Haslam said he understands how important it is to get out the vote.
Early voting numbers are putting Tennessee on track to have 750,000 people participate in the Republican primary when the election wraps up Thursday, he said, compared to 150,000 some 50 years ago when Howard Baker became the first Republican to win a statewide election.
“Fifty years later, to have it continuing to grow is pretty impressive,” he said.
In Rutherford County, 17,548 people voted early, 13,354 of them in the Republican primary, 3,640 in the Democratic primary and 554 in the county general election only.
Haslam said he has been sitting out the political battle over the retention of Tennessee Supreme Court and Appeals Court judges because he would have to pick replacements.
He is opposed by Mark Coonrippy Brown, Basil Marceaux Sr. and Donald Ray McFolin in the Republican primary. Charlie Brown, Kennedy Spellman Johnson, John McKamey and Ron Noonan are running in the Democratic primary.