6 News Anchor/Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Rep. Zach Wamp has been Tennessee's 3rd District congressman for 15 years.
He says he could have played it safe and stayed in Congress. Instead, he says, it's important that he becomes Tennessee's next governor.
His opponents in the Republican primary for governor, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, say Wamp is part of the problem.
Wamp turns that criticism upside down, describing his time in Washington as one of his strengths. He says Tennessee will need a governor who understands the ins and outs of Washington politics and funding, now more than ever.
As his opponents have done, he points to his conservative values.
"Conservative means a strong constitutional government, and frankly, a strong social policy that adheres to biblical values," he said. "That's what Tennesseans know has stood the test of time."
Test of time, perhaps, but when asked if his biblical values stand up to constitutional muster, he didn't back down.
"I guarantee you our founding fathers were not shy about their faith at all," he said. "And through the test of the bad challenges in this country, people hit their knees and pray to God and turn to him. I don't mind telling you, if we don't do that again, we're going down the tubes."
As 6 News did with Wamp's opponents, we asked him questions submitted by our viewers.
One was about President Obama's healthcare reform plan.
"The Obama administration has dramatically increased the Tenncare rolls, but there's no money to pay for it," he answered. "So this is part of the federal healthcare solution that we have to fight because we don't have the money."
Another viewer asked about funding for universal pre-kindergarten education.
"As governor I'll focus on early childhood development in a big way," he said. "As soon as we have resources to do more we'll see what works the best and expand the programs that work better when we can, because if children aren't reading by the third grade, its too late."
On illegal immigration, Wamp said, "We should become an Arizona-like state, our own Arizona-type law that allows us to enforce illegal immigration if the federal government's not going to do it, and have e-verification to check Social Security numbers to make sure the person working there's number matches the person who's working there."