As we just told a member of the Haslam campaign staff, "You know, we thought Mayor Haslam really had a chance to win Memphis. And when can we expect that John Calipari endorsement?"
To be fair, there are plenty of Tennessee fans in Shelby County who will vote in the Republican primary, and even the most avid Tiger basketball fans know, deep down, that Bruce Pearl is indeed a master at evaluating, recruiting and coaching talent. And, as evidenced by his appearances here, Pearl knows how to excite the base (and antagonize opponents).
Haslam's trump here -- beyond the biggest asset in Shelby County being that, as he put it, he "married a Memphis girl" -- is that Memphis resident and Saks Incorporated Chairman and CEO Brad Martin's many connections include close ties with several former Tiger basketball players. At the opening of Haslam's headquarters in East Memphis, former Tiger star and administrator Dexter Reed was one of several African-American Democrats showing their support. Former Tiger guard and charge-taking expert Jon Albright was also there.
To give equal time here, we'll point out that Wamp received a vigorous endorsement from national TV and radio financial talk-show star Dave Ramsey -- an anti-debt zealot whose callers provide financial horror stories many of us enjoy because they make us feel better about our own financial management. Ramsey is one of several high-profile Wamp supporters holding fundraisers over the next several weeks (country music stars past and present T.G. Sheppard, John Rich, and Ricky Skaggs, among others).