governor’s race 2018

Dean launches first general election ad

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean has launched his first television ad of the general election campaign. Dean in the ad discusses his idea of “limitless libraries,” where students can get any library book delivered to their school.

“But we can do more,” the former Nashville mayor says in the ad. “How about skills training for any student who wants it? Or broadband everywhere? Or online access to doctors in big cities.”

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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.

Chattanooga mayor endorses former Nashville mayor for governor

A release from Democratic candidate Karl Dean’s campaign:

Today, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke announced his endorsement for Karl Dean for Governor. 

Dean joined Berke in downtown Chattanooga for a press conference where the announcement was made. Berke pointed to their shared experience of being mayors as the reason he’s supporting Dean’s candidacy.  

“Karl Dean’s bold ideas, thoughtful leadership, and common sense approach to solving problems made him an outstanding two-term Mayor of Nashville,” Berke said. “As our next Governor, I know that he’ll work harder than anyone to provide more opportunities for more people in our state to get better educations and build better lives. Tennessee deserves a Governor who will work for everyone, including the urban neighborhoods and rural communities that are too often forgotten by leaders on Capitol Hill. Karl has proven to us that he’ll fight for Chattanoogans and our neighbors. I’m proud to endorse him today.”

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Dean campaign announces ‘Educators for Dean’

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is announcing the formation of a “Educators for Dean” group as the Democrat moves in to the general election phase of the governor’s race.

Dean as mayor and in his time since leaving office has been a supporter of expanding charter schools in the city, a key factor in his failure to land the endorsement of the Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, during the primary (the group’s nod went instead to House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh). Dean is now trying to shore up support among public education advocates as he faces off against Republican businessman Bill Lee.

“Tennessee has made significant progress on public education under Governor Haslam and Governor Bredesen,” Dean said in a release. “We need to continue that progress by ensuring every community in Tennessee has the resources it needs to be successful. This includes raising teacher pay and better supporting the professional growth of educators so that we can be competitive in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest teachers.”

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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.

State GOP congratulates GOP nominee

A statement from state Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden:

We congratulate Bill Lee on his victory tonight as the Republican nominee for governor, and we commend the other candidates on a hard-fought race. Bill has the experience, skills, and temperament to be a terrific governor, and he will unify Republicans ahead of the general election victory this November. We look forward to working with Bill across the state to ensure he is the 50th Governor of Tennessee.

And from Gov. Bill Haslam:

Congratulations to Bill Lee on winning the Republican nomination for Tennessee governor. Bill is a man of strong faith and character, and I know he will lead Tennessee in the right direction. He has long been a supporter of Tennessee’s business-friendly environment, and he is committed to the education and development of the state’s workforce. Bill has demonstrated that he will put the needs of Tennesseans at the forefront of any decision he makes as governor of our great state.

And from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander:

Congratulations to Bill Lee on tonight’s victory. As I’ve often said, there is no better job than being governor of your home state, especially if that state is Tennessee. I look forward to working with Bill to continue Governor Haslam’s excellent leadership of our state.

Karl Dean: ‘Best days still ahead of us’

A release from Democrat Karl Dean’s campaign:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  — Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean won the Democratic nomination for governor tonight in an overwhelming victory with close to 80 percent of the vote. 

Dean enters the general election with strong momentum, as evidenced by recent finance reports and public polling that showed him in the lead in both fundraising and voter support. 

After speaking with his primary opponent by phone, Dean took the stage at an election night party this evening to thank his supporters and highlight the importance of staying focused on the issues that matter to Tennesseans. 

“I am honored to be the Democratic nominee for governor, but we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us. The next three months we will be solely focused on listening to voters in all 95 counties,” Dean said. 

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