(T-G Photo by John I. Carney) [Order this photo]
"It's looking better every day," Ramsey told the Times-Gazette.
The bill has survived close votes in legislative committees -- including one this week in the House in which Speaker Beth Harwell used her privilege to break a tie -- but Ramsey said that some of those may actually have been among its toughest hurdles. And he said some groups that had previously opposed the concept, like the beer industry, aren't opposing this year's bill as actively as in the past.
Proponents say that other states allow wine sales in supermarkets without ill effect and say wine is used in cooking and is naturally paired with food. Beer can already be sold in supermarkets.
Opponents say that the measure would be devastating to small, locally-owned liquor stores, which are heavily regulated and which were built on the supposition that they would have the exclusive right to sell wine. They also question whether supermarket sales would make it easier for underage customers to purchase wine.
Ramsey, who said he doesn't drink, and Harwell are supporting the current version of the wine-in-supermarkets bill, which would give local communities the right to decide the issue for themselves.
Ramsey, a Blountville Republican who serves as speaker of the State Senate, was in town to support Tracy, a state senator from Shelbyville, in his run for the 4th District U.S. House seat currently held by fellow Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais. The fund-raiser was held at the home of David and Tanya Coffey. About 40 people attended the $500-per-couple fund-raiser.
David Coffey introduced State Rep. Pat Marsh, who introduced Ramsey. Marsh praised Ramsey's pro-business stance as the first Republican lieutenant governor since Reconstruction.
"He's my hero up there," said Marsh.
Ramsey recalled telephone calls to recruit Tracy to run for the State Senate, before Ramsey had even met Tracy. Later, Ramsey, Tracy and State Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson) shared a Nashville apartment during the legislative session.
"It's because of people like Jim .... In my opinion, Tennessee is the best-run state in the nation," said Ramsey.
Ramsey said Tracy was needed in Washington.
"He's the right man at the right time for this district," said Ramsey.
The lieutenant governor criticized ObamaCare. Ramsey said proponents of health care reform point out how much money is coming back to the states.
"First of all, it's our money," said Ramsey. ".... They're borrowing four out of 10 dollars of that."
Tracy said it was "with a heavy heart" that he was challenging an incumbent Republican, the same phrase he used when announcing his candidacy in January. In previous statements, he's criticized DesJarlais for the personal scandal that embroiled the South Pittsburg physician in the waning days of last year's re-election campaign.
Tracy said the nation was "broken, financially, and morally."
"I can bring those common-sense Tennessee values back to Washington, D.C.," said Tracy. "... If we don't turn it around right now, it's going to be difficult to do it."
He noted the difficulty and expense of campaigning in the sprawling 4th district, and asked those in attendance to recommend him to their friends in other counties.
"We've got to win one day at a time," said Tracy.
David Coffey, thanking the crowd for their attendance, praised Tracy for having "no baggage."
"We know who he is," said Coffey.