governor’s race 2018

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.”

New poll has Bredesen edging Blackburn 51-49

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks at a rallt in Nashville on Aug. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new automated poll by Republican polling firm Vox Populi Communications finds Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen with a 51% to 49% advantage among likely voters over the GOP’s Marsha Blackburn.

The poll also found Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee leading Democrat Karl Dean 55% to 45%.

Fifty-five percent said they approved of President Donald Trump’s performance, while 42% said they disapproved (40% said they think Trump should be impeached or forced to leave, while 60% said they disagreed).

Among other findings:

  • 25% approve of cutting entitlement programs like Medicare to balance the budget, 76% oppose.
  • 41% support abolishing ICE, 59% disapprove.
  • 44% say Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs are helping the state economy, 56% say hurting.
  • 57% say the support “a single payer healthcare system where the federal government would pay for healthcare for all Americans even if it means raising taxes to pay for it,” while 43% oppose.

The poll included 43% who identify as Republican, 32% as Democrats, and 25% as independents. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Polling site FiveThirtyEight rates NBC/Marist (Bredesen +2) and Fox (Blackburn +3) with an A, and CNN (Bredesen +5) with an A-minus. The site gives Vox (Bredesen +2) a B, with a 77% average of calling races correctly.

 

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

Dean takes aim at Lee over Medicaid expansion

A new ad by Democrat Karl Dean is taking aim at Republican gubernatorial rival Bill Lee over Medicaid expansion.

“I’ve stood next to Bill Lee when he’s been adamantly against expanding medicaid, even though it means more shut down hospitals and higher costs on all of us,” Dean says in the ad.

Dean notes in the spot that Tennessee doesn’t get back the full amount that it pays into the federal Medicaid program.

“I’ll expand Medicaid and bring our tax dollars home,” Dean says.

Continue reading

NBC/Marist poll has Bredesen leading Blackburn by 2 points

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen speaks at a forum on business issues in Nashville on Aug. 15, 2018 (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new NBC/Marist poll in the Tennessee Senate race has Democrat Phil Bredesen leading Republican Marsha Blackburn by 2 percentage points among likely voters, and 4 points among registered voters. Both are within the poll’s margin of error.

The poll found the governor’s race is far less competitive: Republican Bill Lee was leading Democrat Karl Dean 53%-40% .

Among likely voters, Bredesen was up 48-46, with 5% undecided.  Bredesen’s margin was 48-44 among registered voters.

Bredesen has near unanimous support among Democrats (97%-0%),  compared with Blackburn, who had an 86%-9% advantage among Republicans. Indepedents were leaning toward Bredesen 49%-45%.

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.

Dean calls for local-option gas tax

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean speaks to a business group in Nashville on March 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean is calling for counties to be allowed the the option of adding a local surcharge to gas taxes collected by the state. Dean says much of those extra taxes would paid for by visitors and that the revenues would allow counties to fund specific infrastructure and transportation programs.

“Unlike my opponent, I believe passing the IMPROVE Act was the right move for Tennessee,” Dean said in a statement. “But we can’t rest; we can’t sit still. As governor, I’ll work with legislators to make transportation infrastructure an even better tool to add jobs and increase access to high-quality education and health care.”

Continue reading

NYT on Black’s failed effort to land Trump endorsement

U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) speaks at a Republican event in Nashville on May 7, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

In a look at President Donald Trump’s influence over the outcome of Republican primaries around the country, the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman unearthed this nugget about U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s failed lobbying efforts in her bid for governor in Tennessee:

This year few Republican candidates, for example, were as aggressive in lobbying for Mr. Trump’s endorsement as Representative Diane Black of Tennessee, who came in third in her state’s primary for governor this month. She approached the president at a White House event, had some of his most high-profile congressional allies weigh in on her behalf, and even deployed some West Wing officials who are friendly to her.

But most of Mr. Trump’s aides wanted him to stay out of the race, and they were able to keep him sidelined in part by reminding him of what Ms. Black said after the video of Mr. Trump boasting about groping women was released in 2016 (“I would’ve yanked my son by the ear if he had talked that way when he was a teenager much less an adult,” she said at the time).

Black finished third in the GOP primary.