Bill Lee

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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Poll finds Black leads Dean by 11 points hypothetical governor match; Beavers tied

Former state Sen. Mae Beavers and Williamson County businessman Bill Lee would face closer general election races as the Republican nominee for governor against  Democrat Karl Dean, a former Nashville mayor, than three other contenders for the GOP nomination, according to a poll commissioned by Tennessee Star.

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Lee launches first statewide TV ad of gubernatorial campaign

Williamson County businessman Bill Lee, who polling indicates has the lowest name recognition among major Republican candidates for governor,  has become the first with a statewide television advertising campaign. The one-minute ad, entitled “Why,” is aimed at introducing the candidate to voters and is scheduled to run for a week starting on Saturday. The ad features footage of Lee farm and the candidate talking about the death of his first wife, the Lee Company that he runs and concludes with the declaration:

“Can I make life better for every person in this state? I believe I can. I’m sure going to try.”

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Five gubernatorial candidates agree on most education issues

Five Tennessee gubernatorial candidates had a “cordial hourlong forum” on education Tuesday evening at Belmont University in Nashville, displaying few disagreements and making plenty of promises, reports The Tennessean.

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

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Lee calls for more school choice, says ‘receptions that entertain legislators’ should be stopped

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee is calling for more school choice in Tennessee and an end to lobbyist-sponsored receptions for state legislators, reports the Associated Press.

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