Bill Lee

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.

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GOP holds carefully choreographed ‘unity’ press conference

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

Republican candidates gathered in Nashville on Saturday to profess unity among their ranks following a divisive primary season. The media event preceding a closed-door lunch hosted by Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn featured no speeches from the defeated gubernatorial candidates. No questions were taken and none of the losing congressional candidates were in attendance.

Putting a lid on the unsuccessful candidates avoided a repeat of the 2010 event in which losing gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp took some not-so-subtle swipes at the nominee, Bill Haslam. But keeping the defeated candidates from speaking their minds didn’t exactly project organic unity building within the ranks.

Trump wades into TN governor’s race following primary

That Trump endorsement that Diane Black wanted so badly has gone to Bill Lee. But not until the Republican gubernatorial contest was already settled.

Ketron: Lee is ‘good man’ to lead Tenn. for 8 years

State Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) speaks on the Senate floor on Feb. 26, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Sen. Bill Ketron says he expects Franklin businessman Bill Lee to lead Tennessee for the next two gubernatorial terms.

Ketron, who is running for Rutherford County mayor, made the comments about Lee  at a campaign town hall on Tuesday. Ketron is the Senate Republican Caucus chairman, the same position that gubernatorial candidate Diane Black held before she was elected to Congress in 2010.

“You have a good man here that I feel, in my personal opinion, that will lead us for the next eight years: Bill Lee,” Ketron said at the event.

Ketron noted that there will be a vast reduction in institutional memory given the raft of retirements in the General Assembly. He told Lee he could take advantage of that “void.”

“Now’s a great time for you to come in. Fresh ideas. Push back on those bureaucrats, our state employees — all due respect, but they get entrenched. So now’s a great time for you to come in and do what’s best for this state.”

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Johnson City Press endorses Lee, Fitzhugh

The Johnson City Press is endorsing Republican Bill Lee and Democrat Craig Fitzhugh in the gubernatorial primary.

“On the right, Lee is checking all the right boxes for traditional Republican voters — Second Amendment protections, limited government, business acumen and tough immigration policy to name a few — while also presenting creative solutions in such areas as education and criminal justice. As Lee’s standing has risen in the polls, he predictably has become the target of attack ads, but he wisely has stayed largely above the fray,” according to the paper.

The paper praised Fitzhugh for knowing “state government inside and out” from his 12 years as a state lawmaker.

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Lee mailer: ‘Good thing he’s a master plumber’

Bill Lee’s latest campaign mailer says his Republican opponents are throwing the “kitchen sink” at him. The mailer’s retort: “Good thing he’s a master plumber.” The piece then goes on to list Lee’s bona fides as they relate to guns, abortion, and sanctuary cities.

Feels like somehow they missed an opportunity to say something about how he’s uniquely qualified to unclog the drain of the Nashville swamp…

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Lee Co. sends cease-and-desist letter to Black campaign

Bill Lee’s plumbing and HVAC company has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the campaign of rival Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black, calling for the removal of information about the company’s treatment of a veteran who was once employed there.

The Tennessean reports that the company said the Black campaign was “deliberately misrepresenting” the facts surrounding the legal dispute between Lee Co. and an Army National Guard member who claimed wrongful termination in a federal lawsuit.

“We have learned that the Diane Black for Governor campaign is deliberately misrepresenting actions taken by Lee Company that relate to a former employee who served as a Tennessee National Guardsman,” according to the letter by Lee Co. general counsel Jason Hale. “You have also misrepresented our company’s attitude toward and treatment of veterans in these communications.”

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Anti-Boyd website questions pollster’s links to Lee campaign

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

A conservative website that has long targeted Randy Boyd’s gubernatorial bid is raising questions about ties between one of its favored Republican candidates, Bill Lee, and a poll that suggested he had surged to a 6-point lead over Boyd.

The Tennessee Star notes that Lee’s general consultants Blake Harris and Jordan Gehrke have links to JMC Analytics and Polling, the company that released what it billed as a “completely independent” poll in the Tennessee governor’s race this week. Harris and Gehrke are partners in Vertical Strategies and Victory Phones respectively, companies that share a Grand Rapids, Mich., address with another company called Advictory. Lee’s campaign has spent heavily on Advictory and Victory Phones — a company that has been listed as an auto-dialer for JMC polls in other states (the company did not disclose its auto-dialer for the Tennessee poll).

Boyd campaign CEO Chip Saltsman immediately dismissed the poll as “bogus” and said it looked like a “publicity stunt by the Lee campaign to try and artificially create some momentum.”

JMC founder John Couvillon told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he has no clients in Tennessee and decided to poll the GOP primary as a “completely independent project” because there were few other public polls run in the state.

Boyd campaign slams poll showing Lee leading GOP gov’s race

The Randy Boyd campaign is unimpressed by a poll suggesting Bill Lee is leading the Republican primary contest for governor by 6 percentage points.

“No one should fall for a deeply-flawed poll cooked up at the 11th hour by some unknown pollster,” said Boyd campaign CEO Chip Saltsman.

It’s not the first time Saltsman has railed against the methodology of a poll promoting one of Boyd’s GOP rivals. In March he charged that a poll touted by the Diane Black campaign showing her with a 14-point lead over Boyd was “bogus.” Saltsman used that same term to describe the new JMC Analytics poll.

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