governor’s race 2018

Republican Governors Association bashes Dean; Dean bashes RGA

The Republican Governors Association, apparently concerned that Democrat Karl Dean might actually have a chance of winning the 2018 gubernatorial election, has already begun attacking the former Nashville mayor for supporting a property tax increase. Dean says it’s a case of “Washington politics trying to interfere in Tennessee.”

Gov. Bill Haslam is a past chairman of the RGA, which has election of Republicans as state chief executives as its primary mission. Haslam, who cannot seek reelection next year, still sits on the RGA’s executive committee.

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Boyd claims $1.2M take at Knoxville fundraiser; contrasts himself with Lee

Randy Boyd says he raised $1.2 million Monday for his Republican gubernatorial campaign at a Knoxville fundraiser Monday and spoke for the first time about Bill Lee, another mulitimillonaire businessman seeking the GOP nomination, reports the News Sentinel.

“It’s overwhelming and you’d expect to do well in your hometown, but in your long lifetime you kind of forget how many people you’ve been involved with … it’s really humbling,” Boyd said before the (fundraising) dinner.

Both Boyd and Lee are businessmen who hope to use their business background and personal war chests in their respective runs for governor. The two will be coupled together in the race going forward, since neither consider themselves politicians.

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Bill Lee files as GOP candidate for governor, launches statewide tour

News release from Bill Lee gubernatorial campaign

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Conservative Williamson County businessman Bill Lee announced today that he is running for governor of Tennessee as a Republican.

“I love Tennessee, and I can’t wait to get this campaign started and get out on the road,” said Lee, chairman of Franklin-based Lee Company. “Over the next year and a half, I will travel the state to engage Tennesseans in a vital conversation about the priorities of our state. We will run the most aggressive grassroots campaign in Tennessee history. Maria and I will go to every county and work for every vote.
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Bill Lee enters 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary

Multimillionaire Bill Lee, chairman of  Franklin-based construction company founded by his grandfather, tells The Tennessean he will file paperwork to launch his campaign for the 2018 gubernatorial nomination on Monday.

Lee, 57, has never run for office and says “my life’s circumstances and my life’s experiences” – including the death of his wife in a 2000 horse-riding accident – have led him to become the third Republican to declare himself a candidate. He joins multimillionaire Randy Boyd of Nashville and state Sen. Mark Green of Clarksville – though Green has been nominated U.S. secretary of the Army and is now widely expected to drop out. There’s a long list of other prospective candidates.

Rather than political service, Lee, who still lives on the cattle farm in Fernvale where he was raised, will lean on his lifelong career at Lee Co., a full-service home services, facilities and construction company founded by his grandfather in 1944, which Lee later purchased from his father and became president in 1992.

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Randy Boyd running online ad on ‘running all my life’


News release from Randy Boyd campaign

Nashville, TN – Randy Boyd  and his Republican  campaign for Governor today launched the first paid advertisement of the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, with a statewide digital buy designed to introduce the Knoxville businessman and state’s  former  economic and community development commissioner to more   than 500,000 proven Republican primary voters across  the state.

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On early twists and turns in the 2018 GOP race for governor

Excerpt from a review of recent developments in the 2018 gubernatorial campaign by the AP’s Eric Schelzig:

The repeal of former President Barack Obama’s health care law was supposed to provide a springboard for U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s entry into the Tennessee governor’s race.

State Sen. Mark Green was supposed to capture to the core of President Donald Trump’s supporters.

And term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax proposal was supposed to fall flat, avoiding political difficulties for House Speaker Beth Harwell.

But none of that has happened as expected, leaving an unsettled Republican field for the 2018 gubernatorial nomination.

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Roundup of some recent TN politics and policy writing

Gas tax debate brings new legislator titles

In a lengthy review of conservative legislator complaints that they haven’t gotten a fair hearing while opposing Gov. Bill Haslam’s tax plans, Sam Stockard depicts Rep. Jerry Sexton as “apparent leader of the ‘Fire and Brimstone Caucus’.”


Sexton was so irritated he got into an argument with Tennessee Journal writer “Easy” Ed Cromer, who had the audacity to ask him if he also opposed a cut in the food sales tax, a 1 percent reduction contained in the bill.

“Why don’t you ask me if I’m against F&E and the Hall tax (cuts)? You want to pick out something,” Sexton argued.

Cromer, who could be the most laid-back member in the Capitol Hill Press Corps, bristled at the suggestion he was being unfair – at least as much as he can bristle – and after a short back-and-forth with Sexton left the scene of the crime (We’ve got a lot of folks storming out these days).

On the other hand, Tennessee Star – which has hailed Sexton’s efforts and commentary – has taken to referring to Rep. Barry Doss, R-Leoma, who has taken the lead in pushing Haslam’s bill in the House – as “Boss Doss” in criticizing his commentary.

The latest example, under the headline “Boss Doss Claim That Tennessee is Lowest Taxed State in Nation Contradicted by Kiplinger Report” is HERE.

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Boyd campaign confession: I want to be bolder than Bill Haslam, but wouldn’t be running without him

In an appearance before the Washington County Republican Women’s Club on Monday, Randy Boyd was asked if his main goal in running for governor is to carry on Gov. Bill Haslam’s legacy, reports the Johnson City Press.

“I’ll hopefully be able to do new and bolder things, but I have to confess that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for (Haslam), his guidance and his example,” the Knoxville native answered during a brief Q&A session.

Boyd then mentioned he was intent on fulfilling the “Drive to 55,” a state initiative that aims to put a college degree or certificate in the hands of 55 percent of Tennesseans by 2025.

“It’s something I want to see finished,” Boyd, who served as Haslam’s commissioner of economic development, said.

“I’ll say there is a difference maybe in emphasis. The focus on the technical and vocational schools will be a matter of emphasis. … The things I want to focus on is making sure we have those technical skills at our high schools and our Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. We’re going to put a real priority on that.”

Boyd is often credited as the architect of the “Drive to 55” campaign and a fundamental element to the campaign is Tennessee Promise, a scholarship and mentoring program that covers tuition for in-state students at any of Tennessee’s 13 community colleges or 27 colleges of applied technology.

But expanding that initiative to cover tuition at all of Tennessee’s four-year colleges just doesn’t seem plausible, Boyd said.

Trump announces Sen. Mark Green as Army Secretary

President Donald Trump formally announced his intention to nominate state Sen. Mark Green as U.S. Secretary of the Army on Friday in a White House news release that also covered nominations to five other federal government positions.

Green is expected to resign from the Senate when the nomination is confirmed and the new job will also end his planned run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, announced in January. The pending presidential nomination had been widely but unofficially reported earlier.

Here’s the portion of the White House release dealing with Green: Continue reading

Boyd’s community college campaigning prompts Regents political policy review

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd’s campaign appearances at two Board of Regents schools – The Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Memphis and Northeast State Community College in Blountville – has prompted a review of Board of Regent policies on campaign events, reports the Associated Press.

Boyd was a key adviser in the creation of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise program to cover full tuition at two-year schools. The Knoxville businessman and philanthropist said in Nashville this week that “a lot of my life’s work has been helping kids get into these technical colleges.”

But the campaign stops at the schools in Memphis and Blountville appear to run up against a state law that bans the use of public buildings or facilities for campaign activity — unless all candidates are given the same access.

The head of the Tennessee Board of Regents is considering an overhaul of policies on political campaigning in response to the Boyd rallies on two of the system’s campuses.

“These events are allowed under state statute, as long as reasonably equal opportunity is available for other candidates,” Chancellor Flora Tydings said in a statement.

“I plan to brief the board on such use of state-owned property and determine its potential interest in developing a more detailed TBR policy concerning political or campaign requests on our system’s campuses,” she said.

Dick Williams, the chairman of Common Cause Tennessee, called it “unfortunate” that Tennessee doesn’t have a ban on all political activity at public facilities.

“It would be better to have the clear prohibition that you don’t use the campus or facility, period,” he said. “It would be better policy just to delete that exception.”

Williams noted that a recent legal opinion by state Attorney General Herbert Slatery found that it is lawful for campaign fundraisers to be held at the state-owned governor’s mansion because elected officials are excluded from the ban on campaigning on public property. The same exemption also applies to qualified candidates.

“They have the law and the attorney general on their side,” Williams conceded.

But it’s unlikely that a Democratic candidate like former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean would be allowed to hold a fundraiser at the governor’s mansion, he said.


Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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