The three main Republican candidates for governor all say they’re open to making the position of state attorney general an elected office. Currently Tennessee’s Supreme Court appoints an attorney general, who must then argue before that court, leading some to call it a conflict of interest.
Appearing before lawyers from across the state last week, both Congressman Zach Wamp and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey sounded off in strong opposition to the current system of appointment. Here’s Wamp:
“I don’t think the state attorney general is carrying out the will of the people and I think direct elections may come and I’m open to the beginning of that process.”
In turn Ramsey took a shot at the office as filled by the state Supreme Court.
“Now you have an appointed body appointing someone – that’s one step too far removed from the people in my opinion.”
Ramsey says he’d like to put the matter up for a public vote in 2014. For his part, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam said he’s open to changing the current system, but noted it could politicize the job of attorney general as a step toward higher office.
Answered Ramsey, “So be it.”
Mike McWherter, the lone Democrat left in the race, argued the current system hasn’t created any conflict of interest, calling it “unique” and a model to other states.