(CNN) - Polls are open in Tennessee, where a Republican gubernatorial battle and some contentious House nomination fights are in the spotlight in Thursday's primary.
Five candidates are on the ballot in the GOP contest for governor, but recent polls indicate it's a three-man race between Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. The race grabbed national attention last month because of controversial comments by two of the candidates.
Last month Wamp appeared to suggest that Tennessee should consider secession in light of mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration's health care bill. The eight-term congressman later walked back from those comments.
Ramsey also drew attention to himself last month after he was seen in a You Tube video questioning whether Islam is a religion while expressing his opposition to the expansion of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which has become a hot-button issue in the city about 35 miles southeast of Nashville.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/23/art.wamp.file.gi.jpg caption ="Gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp says he is not interested in secession."](CNN) – Republican Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee wants to make one thing clear: If elected governor, the Volunteer State will remain part of the United States.
"Of course we will not secede from the union," Wamp told reporters at a campaign stop in Franklin, Tennessee over the weekend, according to the Associated Press. "But we will also not have a governor who will cave in to Barack Obama."
Wamp's comments came a day after he appeared to suggest to Hotline OnCall that mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration's health care bill have put secession on the table.
"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government," Wamp told the Hotline.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/23/art.wamp.file.gi.jpg caption ="Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp argued that mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration's health care bill have put secession on the table."]
(CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry's suggestion in April 2009 that his state might consider secession drew a round of mockery nationwide, but his blustery populist rhetoric earned him serious traction among GOP primary voters in his re-election fight against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Perry, riding a tide of anti-Washington sentiment, went on to trounce Hutchison and another candidate in the Republican primary earlier this year.
Now another gubernatorial hopeful is test-driving a similar message.
Rep. Zach Wamp, one of three candidates seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination in Tennessee, told Hotline OnCall that Perry had the right idea. Wamp argued that mandates forced on the states by the Obama administration's health care bill have put secession on the table.
"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government," Wamp told Hotline OnCall Friday.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/05/art.bachmann.gi.jpg caption="Bachmann sounded the socialism alarm on Thursday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Some Republicans in Congress are continuing to warn that President Obama is intent on turning the United States into a socialist nation.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann pressed the socialism argument on Thursday, telling a conservative radio show that the Obama administration is "completely socializing the American economy" with its mortgage relief proposals and bailouts of financial institutions.
"What we've seen them do in the last five weeks is nothing short of a great leap forward toward than finalizing a place of socialism in American economic life," Bachmann told radio host G. Gordon Liddy. "We have never seen this level of socialism in the history of our country, and I think the American people would be floored when they understand the dramatic steps that Obama has taken for our future."
Bachmann called for a "a growth future, a prosperity future, a freedom liberty future."
"Will we be a country that will go forward with liberty, freedom and prosperity, or will we be a country that's mired in Eastern European, Western European doldrums, where freedom is limited and taxation remains high?," she asked.
Bachmann wasn't the only House Republican to say as much on Thursday.
Tennessee Rep. Zach Wamp, who is also running for governor in his home state, told MSNBC that the president's health care proposals represent "a fast march toward socialism."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/05/art.zach.gi.jpg caption="Wamp is running for governor of Tennessee."](CNN) - Tennessee Rep. Zach Wamp, a Republican, announced Monday he is entering his state's 2010 gubernatorial race.
The announcement comes one day after former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, also a Republican from Tennessee, said he was not interested in the job.
"While so much is good in Tennessee, I know in my heart we can continue to do better. From education, economic development, infrastructure and transportation to safer cities and healthier children, I will lead our state with vision, planning and implementation while setting goals and achieving results for a better Tennessee," Wamp said in a statement posted on his Web site.
Wamp has served in Congress since 1995 and represents Tennessee's 3rd district, which covers a north-south strip of the eastern part of the state and includes Chattanooga. In November, he was reelected with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
The current Tennessee governor, Democrat Phil Bredesen, is unable to run again due to term limits.