Bill Lee

Mandatory shop class? Lee proposes vocational training for all students

After Republican Bill Lee’s previous ad touting “20-year solutions” for education and health care became the target of Democratic rival Karl Dean, the Franklin businessman has released a new spot offering some more specifics: He appears to want to require vocational training for all students in Tennessee.

“Every student should have at least some vocational training. It might mean welding. It might mean coding. It might mean ag,” Lee says in the ad. “But we’ve got to start our kids out early. High school, middle school.”

Continue reading

Lee, Dean prepare for second of three debates

Bill Lee speaks at a unity press conference in Nashville on Aug. 4, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Bill Lee and Democrat Karl Dean are headed into their second of three debates in Kingsport on Tuesday evening.

Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the pressure is on Dean.

“If you look at the polling, Karl Dean needs to do something in these debates to change the direction of the race,” said Kent Syler, an assistant professor of political science at Middle Tennessee State University.

Syler said he looks for Dean “to be aggressive and work to find issues that differentiate him from Bill Lee and also score points with voters.”

The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert reports that Dean “didn’t clearly dominate the first of three gubernatorial debates” in Memphis las week, and that the former Nashville mayor has been zeroing in on Medicaid expansion.

“Dean’s polling must be showing it’s having some effect because he continues to talk about it and hammer on it,” said John Geer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor.

“There’s still probably a bit of an edge for Dean on this issue — whether it’s enough to transform the race that’s a much bigger and more difficult question to answer.”

Dean was in Jackson on Monday touting his support for broadband, health care and the Memphis Regional Megasite, reports the Jackson Sun’s Adam Friedman:

“My three priorities are public education, public safety and economic development,” Dean said in his opening remarks. “They’re the three pitches you have to hit every day — if you hit them, everything else will take care of itself.”

New Lee ad touts ‘experience that matters’

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee is our with a new ad touting his “experience that matters.”

Here’s what Lee says in the commercial:

When we’re hiring people, the first thing we ask them about is experience. So, let me tell you about mine. I’m a father of four and a grandfather of five. I’m chairman of a company with 1,200 employees that’s been named by the Tennessean as the best place to work. I’m a seventh-generation Tennessean and a third-generation cattle farmer. That’s experience that matters.

On eve of Trump visit, state GOP blasts Dean for ‘out-of-state reinforcements’

On the heels of yesterday’s announcement that President Donald Trump is returning to Tennessee next week to campaign and raise money for Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, the state GOP has issued a release blasting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean for resorting to “out-of-state reinforcements” in the form of former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Among the things the state GOP takes issue with about McAuliffe for are that he:

  • Was the governor of the only southern state to vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump.
  • Presided over more the introduction of more expensive highway tolls and supported higher taxes in northern Virginia to help fund the Metro.
  • Said impeachment of the president “ought to” be looked at.

“While Karl Dean continues to align himself with national Democrats like Ashley Judd and now Gov. Terry McAuliffe who are determined to undermine the president’s agenda, Bill Lee is spending his time meeting with Tennesseans in every county talking about his vision for this state,” state Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said in a release.

Blackburn has had several out-0f-state Republicans rally to her cause beyond Trump. They include Vice President Mike Pence (twice) and Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Joni Ernst of Iowa.

Asked recently by The Associated Press whether he wanted national Democrats like former President Barack Obama to come campaign on his behalf, Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen said simply, “No.”

Lee welds in new ad touting vocational training

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee’s latest ad features the Franklin businessman using welding equipment and talking about how his plumbing and HVAC company has provided vocational training to workers.

“For way too way too long, we’ve told people, ‘You’ve got to go to college, don’t go into the trades,'” Lee says in the ad. “At Lee Company, we’ve trained more than a thousand skilled tradesmen in the last ten years. I don’t just talk about vocational training, we’ve actually done it.”

Lee faces Democrat Karl Dean, a former Nashville mayor, in the general election to succeed Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

Continue reading

Lee runs first ad of general election campaign

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee has released his first ad of the general election campaign.

Here’s a transcript of the ad:

I’ve never run for office before. It’s an interesting experience and you sure learn some things. Like politics isn’t the solution, it’s generally the problem. People are the solution. So, whatever your party or if you’ve just given up on politics altogether I hope to earn your support. Tennessee is a great state, but you and I, we can make it even better.

Lee agrees to 3 gubernatorial debates with Dean

Businessman Bill Lee speaks at his campaign headquarters opening in Franklin on Feb. 12, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican gubernatorial nominee has agreed to participate in three debates with Democrat Karl Dean in October.

Lee agreed to debate Dean in Memphis on Oct. 2, Kingsport on Oct. 9, and Nashville on Oct 12. Dean had also called several further debates and forums, but agreed to those three as well.

“I believe Tennessee can lead the nation and that means challenging the status quo and providing conservative leadership to keep Tennessee moving in the right direction,”  Lee said in a release. “I look forward to continuing to share my vision with Tennesseans on the campaign trail and from the debate stage this Fall.”

The Lee campaign noted that the Republican has already shared the state with Dean at eight previous forums, bringing the total joint appearances to 11 in which they will have been “able to share their respective ideas on the major issues facing our state.”

Lee campaign staffs up for general election

A release from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee:

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Tennessee Republican Gubernatorial Nominee Bill Lee announced four new hires to his campaign team today including Laine Arnold, Julie Hannah, Kim Kaegi, and Joseph Williams as the campaign expands communications, fundraising, and grassroots operations for the General Election.

“We are thrilled to have all of these talented individuals join the team,” said Campaign Manager Chris Devaney. “We are building on the momentum from our victory in the primary and with these staff additions, we will have the resources and team that will has Bill poised to win convincingly in November.”

The Lee Campaign named Laine Arnold as Press Secretary. Previously, Arnold served as the Press Secretary for the Randy Boyd for Governor campaign and the Communications Director for Battle Ground Academy in Franklin. Arnold will manage day-to-day media relations for the campaign.

In addition to coalition development, Bill’s campaign conducted an expansive and aggressive grassroots campaign in the primary election and to expand on those efforts in the General Election, Julie Hannah, former Chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party, is returning to assist in volunteer operations as the Special Projects & Grassroots Coordinator.

Longtime Republican fundraiser Kim Kaegi joins the campaign as a fundraising consultant who brings 30 years of statewide fundraising experience to the team. Kaegi has led successful fundraising efforts for multiple campaigns, including both Gov. Bill Haslam’s campaign and re-election bid.

Coming off his impressive campaign for State House District 56 this year, constitutional lawyer, former educator with Teach for America, and education advocate Joseph Williams is joining the campaign as the Director of Coalitions. Williams will lead coalition-building efforts and expand on Bill’s already existing coalitions on issues such as veterans, business leaders and political leaders.

Haslam goes to bat for Bill Lee in RGA ad

Gov. Bill Haslam espouses the virtues of Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee in a new ad released by the Republican Governors Association — the national group that Haslam chairs.

“We can trust him to make the right decisions, not the political ones,” Haslam says in the ad.

Here’s the script:

For eight years I’ve had the privilege of being your governor. Together, we’ve made a lot of progress. More people have jobs than ever before. Our taxes are lower, our students are improving faster than anywhere in the country. Tennessee is stronger than ever. Bill Lee is the right choice to take Tennessee to the next level. We can trust him to make the right decisions, not the political ones. He’s been doing that his whole life. I’m asking you to join me in supporting Bill Lee for governor.

The stiletto versus the meat ax in the Tennessee gov’s race

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee won the nomination by “using a stiletto and not a meat ax,” Vanderbilt professor John Geer told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “And the Republican primary voters like a stiletto much more than a meat ax.”

Fred Davis, who was Lee’s media consultant, said the campaign used the fact that the candidate was little-known to its advantage.

“They’re not going to know him early,” Davis told the paper. “We couldn’t compete. But we knew we had the best candidate, the best person, the best heart. We knew that he would grow well on people. There’s only one day you win or lose. That was [Thursday]. It wasn’t Jan. 1. It wasn’t March 15.”

Davis was behind Bill Haslam’s ads in 2010, and in 2006 he produced ads for Bob Corker (and Jim Bryson). Davis was not Lee’s first choice, according to the Times Free Press, and he had earlier been rejected by the Boyd campaign. That was a mistake, Geer said.

“Boyd would have had a much better campaign had he had Fred Davis,” Geer said.

Continue reading