He stands out from the usual politician crowd with his long hair, often tied in a ponytail. His name is Carl “Two Feathers” Whitaker. Whitaker was in his twenties when a retired Chief in Oklahoma gave him his Native American name by literally putting a feather in each of his hands to symbolize his two-nation heritage: a grandmother and mother who were full-blooded Sturbridge Mohegan and a father of Cherokee Irish descent.
During a phone interview, Whitaker was on the campaign trail and about to leave for a meeting with a homeless group in Knoxville. He expressed his passion about getting out there to meet with people in every walk of life because, as Governor, he would “work for the people” and his “door would always be open.” His schedule includes an “81” tour, debates in Clarksville and Chattanooga, and various forums, media appearances and speaking engagements, from Maryville to Memphis.
This is actually Whitaker’s third run for the office, finishing fourth in 2002 and third in 2006. He was initially inspired to enter the political arena in 2000 when he participated in the movement to protect the sacred and historic burial mounds in Townsend, Tennessee. After traveling across the state, he decided someone needed to speak for the many “voices not being heard.”
Whitaker labels himself an Independent, Constitutional Conservative. The campaign pledge for 2010 posted on http://www.carlwhitakerforgov.com reads, “Keep Tennessee Working. Keep Tennessee Healthy.” He gives his top three priorities for his first day in the office as, “Jobs, healthcare and immigration.” He proposes to give Tennessee companies first bid on state projects and work rigorously to bring new industry to Tennessee. He opposes the federal healthcare reform bill and wants to review the Tenncare program. He sides with Arizona on immigration and suggests that Tennessee create a registration center for illegal aliens. Whitaker remarks that, “As a Native American, I’ve experienced racial profiling first hand.” He claims other candidates ignore this problem because they have not faced the issue in the streets as he has. But he maintains that nevertheless, the law should be enforced. He also emphasizes that no new taxes are necessary for the budget to be balanced.
Who’s supporting his candidacy? Whitaker responds that he has received in-kind support from a variety of political factions: members of the Tea Party movement, voters who once belonged to the Ralph Nader and Ron Paul camps, and other grassroots independents.
Of course, like anyone running for office and especially independents, he welcomes donations. According to the charts on Follow the Money http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/state_candidates.phtml?s=TN&y=2010&f=G, an organization that tracks campaign-finance reports filed with the state disclosure agency, the Republican frontrunner, Bill Haslam, has raised over nine million to date. Even the Democratic contender Michael McWherter is well behind at one and a half million. Whitaker is not discouraged because he thinks that the electorate is ready for “somebody new stepping up to the plate.”
On the personal side, Whitaker came to Tennessee 29 years ago from his home state of Ohio. He had a long career in law enforcement both as a police officer and a police chief, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He resides with his wife in Sevierville in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee where he currently works as a paralegal.
http://www.carlwhitakerforgov.com Carl Whitaker for Governor
National Institute on Money in State Politics, Tennessee 2010