Now that Darrell Waltrip has put some boogity, boogity, boogity into Bill Haslam’s campaign for governor, it’s worth remembering Waltrip has put some boogity into fuel cells of prominent Republicans for years.
Waltrip, the NASCAR legend and current Fox Sportscaster, endorsed Haslam, the Republican nominee for governor, Wednesday with a television ad on race week for Bristol.
Haslam has been announced as grand marshal for the Food City 250 on Friday. The Food City 250 is the Nationwide series race that precedes the Sprint Cup race — NASCAR’s big-league race — in Bristol on Saturday.
But Haslam is expected to be at the track both nights. So the candidate will see a lot of racin’.
But back to the green flag, Waltrip says in his endorsement that Haslam has done an “incredible job” as mayor of Knoxville and that if Tennesseans will join him they will all be in Victory Circle.
Waltrip, known for the line “Boogity, boogity, boogity” at the start of each (car) race, has numerous Republican ties, including campaign contributions to Republican presidential candidates, members of Congress, the Republican Party and political action committees along the way.
A check of federal contributions Wednesday showed Waltrip gave $2,400 to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s campaign last August and another $1,000 to Sen. Bob Corker the same month.
That’s after years of Republican contributions. Waltrip gave $2,300 to Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Jan. 11, 2008, which appears to have been reimbursed on March 10, 2008. Then he gave $1,000 to Sen. John McCain on June 23, 2008.
He gave $1,200 to Blackburn in 2008.
In 2007, Waltrip gave $4,600 to Guiliani. The same year, he gave $2,000 to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Waltrip’s native state, and $500 to the Republican National Committee. He gave a total of $6,000 to the Republican Party of Tennessee that year.
Waltrip gave $2,100 each to Blackburn and Corker in 2006, the same year he gave $500 to former Sen. Bill Frist’s Volunteer PAC.
Going back through the years to 2000, Waltrip has contributed to President George W. Bush, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He has contributed repeatedly to Blackburn and gave to Republican Kevin Triplett, a former NASCAR executive, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress from Virginia in 2004.
In the 1990s, Waltrip gave to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee. He gave to the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders PAC in 1989.
Waltrip’s wife Stevie (that’s Stephanie on federal forms) has also contributed to Corker, Blackburn and George W. Bush. Darrell’s brother Michael, another longtime NASCAR driver, has been a contributor, primarily to Giuliani. He also gave to Triplett.
In the formal release from the Haslam campaign, Darrell Waltrip pointed to Haslam’s qualifications.
“I see Bill Haslam’s outstanding record as a businessman as a sure and necessary qualification to be Tennessee’s next governor,” Waltrip said in the formal statement. “The next Tennessee governor faces difficult challenges with unique opportunities, and Bill Haslam is the candidate with the right experience to lead our state now.
“As a former driver, I know a thing or two about endurance, and I greatly admire the endurance, energy and enthusiasm he has shown on the campaign trail as he discusses his ideas to make our state better.”
Waltrip over the years has alternately used his Franklin, Tenn., and Harrisburg, N.C., addresses when making political contributions.
Haslam, who won the Republican nomination on Aug. 5, will face Democrat Mike McWherter in the general election Nov. 2.