Bill Lee

House’s $250K Memphis money cut becomes GOP debate topic, inspires fundraising drive

In a debate Wednesday, three Republican candidates for governor said they disagreed with a House vote to cut $250,000 in funding for Memphis because of the city’s removal of Confederate monuments from former city parks. But Diane Black, Randy Boyd and Bill Lee also said they opposed the city’s action, reports the Memphis Daily News. House Speaker Beth Harwell, who missed the debate while presiding over the House in Nashville, voted for the Memphis funding cut.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been started on Facebook to raise funds to make up the money lost through the House vote, according to a separate News report. As of Thursday morning, $44,765 had been raised toward the $250,000 goal.

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Guber campaign money: Boyd sets new record for self-financing (Lee and Black close behind)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd has set a new record for self-financing in a Tennessee political campaign, a review of financial disclosures filed this week shows. Williamson County businessman Bill Lee has also clearly passed U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s old record and Diane Black has roughly matched it.

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Bill Lee quits business coalition board that endorsed candidate in Nashville mayor’s race

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee resigned from the board of the Nashville Business Coalition Wednesday after the group publicly urged Democrat David Briley to seek election as Nashville mayor and called on other prospective candidates to stay out of the race, reports Tennessee Star. Briley, who had been vice mayor, took over duties as mayor following the resignation of former mayor Megan Barry this week.

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Lee gets celebrity help in seeking evangelical vote (‘God can work through him’)

Williamson County businessman Bill Lee has five celebrities serving as “honorary co-chairs” in a listing of his gubernatorial campaign supporters called  “Community and Faith-Based Advisory Council.”  Celebrities are country music star Ricky Skaggs, former Nashville Predators captain Mike Fisher, former NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip along with gospel singers Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith.

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GOP gov’s poll shows tight race among top 3

Bill Lee speaks to supporters at his headquarters launch in Franklin on Feb. 12, 2018. (Erik Schelzig/Tennessee Journal)

Bill Lee speaks to supporters at his headquarters launch in Franklin on Feb. 12, 2018. (Erik Schelzig/Tennessee Journal)

Rival gubernatorial campaigns scoffed this week when Republican Bill Lee declared “we can win” in a speech to supporters at his headquarters launch. A new Lee poll obtained by The Tennessee Journal appears to lend that statement at least some credence.

The poll shows the Franklin businessman in a “strong third place” behind Randy Boyd and Diane Black, with Beth Harwell lagging far behind.

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Lee reserves $2.2M worth of TV ad time for June through Aug. 2 GOP gubernatorial primary

Williamson County gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee has reserved $2.2 million worth of TV time to run campaign ads from June through the Aug. 2 Republican primary, reports Joel Ebert.

Although the spots are still months away from hitting the airwaves, Lee has reserved $1.1 million in ads to air on local broadcast stations in Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, the Tri-Cities area and throughout West Tennessee, including Memphis and Jackson, as well as Paducah, Kentucky.

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Of six gubernatorial candidates, only Harwell supports removing governor from UT board

House Speaker Beth Harwell supports Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to reduce the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees from 26 to 11 members – including elimination of the governor as a board member, according to a Victor Ashe column. But  five other major candidates for governor want to have a seat on the board if elected.

Randy Boyd, Craig Fitzhugh, Bill Lee and Diane Black all said they thought the governor should be a board member and they would actively attend meetings as governor. Karl Dean said he would actively attend meetings but did not respond to the question of whether the law should be amended to remove the governor.

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Lee, Boyd differ on megasite development at guber forum

Two leading Republican candidates for governor in Tennessee drew a contrast over an economic development “megasite” during a forum Thursday, reports the Associated Press.

At the Tennessee Press Association forum, former state economic development chief Randy Boyd said it’s worth the time and remaining investment of $70 million-plus to the Memphis Regional Megasite because it could help create more than 30,000 jobs.

But businessman Bill Lee said there isn’t currently a workforce prepared for the jobs that the megasite might attract.

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Gubernatorial contributions in one handy chart

Here is a look at the gubernatorial campaign finance reports for the second half of 2017, free of the candidates’ press release spin:

Party Candidate From outside sources From self / transfer Spent On hand
R* Beavers $163,947 $0 $51,931 $167,410
R Black $1,739,523 $1,000,000 $987,761 $1,735,523
R Boyd $1,250,326 $2,000,000 $2,663,897 $4,095,658
D Dean $1,245,245 $200,000 $630,933 $1,807,204
D Fitzhugh $304,513 $500,000 $134,733 $681,856
R Harwell $1,186,398 $4,026,204 $160,898 $5,055,115
R Lee $904,743 $908,000 $595,987 $3,744,430

Beavers suspended her campaign this week. Harwell’s total in the “from self” column includes a $3.1 million loan, plus $918,204 in the form of a transfer from her legislative account and a contribution from her PAC.

This post has been updated to reflect $7,850 in returned contributions from the Dean campaign and $9,500 from the Boyd campaign.

Lee reports $3.7M cash on hand for gubernatorial race

Press release from Bill Lee campaign

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee announced his campaign for governor has raised nearly $2.3 million for the 2017 reporting period, with over $900,000 in the second half of 2017.  In addition to the amount raised, Bill and his wife Maria committed to match campaign donations dollar for dollar, ending the reporting period with over $3.7 million cash on hand.

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