(T-G Photo by John I. Carney) [Order this photo]
McMillan, a Democrat from Clarksville, is a former state house majority leader and a former senior advisor to Gov. Phil Bredesen and thus claims to be the only candidate from either party with experience in both the legislative and executive branches of state government. She said she is not concerned about the recent Republican trend in Tennessee and in some key races nationwide, saying Tennesseans tend to be more concerned with the individual than the party affiliation. She said that during her 12 years in the state legislature, she made friends across party lines.
"I'm fortunate to have those relationships," she said. "We couldn't pass budgets on Democratic votes alone."
McMillan is affiliated with Austin Peay State University, where she is executive director of community and business relations and a faculty member in the political science department. She said that jobs are the major issue about which voters want to talk, and said that building partnerships between business and education is a key to landing employers like Hemlock Semiconductor. The solar cell manufacturer, which will open a $1.2 billion facility in McMillan's home county in 2012, wants an educated workforce, she said, and new programs and even a new building at Austin Peay will provide training for potential Hemlock employees. She said similar partnerships will help provide more jobs.
McMillan also cited her 20 years of legal practice and her chairmanship of the board of Cumberland Bank & Trust, a community bank in Clarksville.
McMillan, a child of adoption who was raised by two teachers, said that she wants to continue full funding of the Basic Education Program, just as Bredesen has done during lean budget times. But she said the operation of state government must be studied top to bottom to find out "what is working and what is not" and cut or change ineffective programs. She said that fraud, waste and abuse can't be blamed for all of the state's government woes, but no department is above having its operations studied.
"Clearly," she said, "there are areas where you can maximize your efficiency."
McMillan, who was in Fayetteville earlier Tuesday before her Shelbyville visit, said campaigning in all areas of the state, and listening to voter concerns, are important.
"I think it's important that I'm here," she said. "I want to be the governor of all of Tennessee."
Party primaries for the governor's race will take place in August, with the general election in November.