Too much Mr. Nice Guy? Haslam struggles to exert influence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was riding high. He swept all 95 counties in his re-election bid, then his peers picked him to be chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

But that momentum came to a crashing halt just days into a special legislative session he called in February, when lawmakers unceremoniously rejected Haslam’s signature proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans.

And Haslam bookended a tumultuous legislative session by reversing his previous opposition to allowing handgun carry permit holders to be armed in all local parks, playgrounds and ballfields. Haslam in his previous role as Knoxville mayor had supported a ban on guns in city parks.

Haslam rejects suggestions that he’s too nice to exert his will among fellow Republicans in the Legislature.