New Rural TN PAC holds first event, gives Beavers an edge over Lee in gubernatorial straw poll

State Sen. Mae Beavers edged Williamson County businessman Bill Lee in a Republican gubernatorial election straw poll held Saturday night by Rural Tennessee Speaks, a group recently established with state Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, as president.

Beavers and Lee were the only two candidates to address the gathering in Dover, attended by about 200 people, according to media reports. Reedy tells Tennessee Star the straw poll results were 66 for Beavers, 62 for Lee, 10 for U.S. Rep. Diane Black (who hasn’t announced as a candidate), seven for House Speaker Beth Harwell and two for Randy Boyd.

From a Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle report:

Rural Tennessee Speaks was an idea born in April of 2016 and began as a political action committee on May 1, said one of the founder Rep. Jay Reedy. It was formed to support local and state candidates.

Reedy said the election of President Donald Trump in the 2016 Election “activated the rural areas” of the state and of the nation. It served as part of the motivation for establishing the PAC.

Co-founder Brett Lashlee, a candidate for Benton County mayor, told the group… “It’s easy for government to overlook rural communities… Hope deteriorates as the result of rural areas getting left behind. When hope deteriorates, we lose spiritually, we lose culturally, we lose economically, we lose politically.”

(Note: The PAC filed its first financial disclosure on dated July 1, reporting a balance of $670 – all received from unitemized contributions and with no expenditures. Presumably, that figure will be increased somewhat by the Saturday fundraiser. The PAC has a website HERE that includes a mission statement declaring it “an organized group of Christian Conservative Tennesseans.”

From the Tennessee Star report:

Overall, the launch of Rural Tennessee Speaks was a great success, Rural Tennessee Speaks President Reedy told The Star.

“What was interesting was the enthusiasm for the crowd. It was just amazing, the response,” Reedy said.

“Our mission is to support local and state candidates, only in the state of Tennessee. That goes for school board members, county commissioners, all of that,” the Rural Tennessee Speaks president said.

“We are talking about having another event with conservative folks in Tullahoma in October or November.  Our ambition is to work with the Republican Party in rural areas in Tennessee, work with those groups. If we bring our name along with our speakers, we can get rural Tennessee activated,” Reedy concluded.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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