Tennessee has its first Republican Attorney General in nearly 150 years. And he happens to be a dear friend of Governor Bill Haslam, which turned Herbert Slatery’s oath of office into a surprisingly emotional ceremony on Wednesday.
“28 years ago in Knoxville, a lawyer, a retailer, a salesman, a banker and wholesaler formed a group,” said Greg Adams, the state’s chief of operations and a former IBM executive.
The men met every Friday morning for two years to pray together. Adams said three of them have worked together for the last two years.
“The salesman is telling this story, and the retailer is the governor. And he is swearing in the lawyer as the Attorney General of the state of Tennessee,” Adams said, choking up at one point.
As Haslam lauded Slatery’s character, he also had to compose himself.
“I wasn’t going to do this,” he said as his voice cracked.
The governor does not play a direct role in appointing the attorney general. That’s the job of the state Supreme Court, though the justices are appointed by the governor.
After taking the oath, Slatery praised the appointment process, saying it’s far less politicized than in other states where AGs are elected by voters.
“If you looked at the long line of people I’m succeeding, I think it has worked pretty well,” he said.
Several recent attorneys general happened to be in the audience, including Bob Cooper, who had applied for a second eight-year term but was passed over for the governor’s right-hand man.