Lee Wins GOP Nomination for Governor of Tennessee

Posted: Aug 03, 2018 7:25 AM

Outsider gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee won the Republican primary for Tennessee governor Thursday, beating a crowded field of well-funded candidates, including Rep. Diane Black, who was endorsed by Vice President Mike Pence and was favored to win the nomination.  

"Today is a victory for Tennesseans who want an outsider, for people who want Tennessee not only to be an even better place to live for six-and-a-half million people, but for Tennessee to lead the nation," Lee said. "Tonight, we celebrate, but tomorrow we get back to work." 

Lee, a construction executive, won 37 percent of the vote, followed by Boyd (24 percent), Black (23 percent), and Harwell (roughly 15 percent). 

Mr. Lee, a political newcomer, spent $5 million of his own funds to defeat Rep. Diane Black, who was endorsed by Vice President Mike Pence ; Beth Harwell, the Tennessee state House speaker; and Randy Boyd, a fellow businessman.

Mr. Lee, 57 years old, is chairman and former chief executive of a company founded by his grandfather. He had never before sought public office and portrayed himself in TV ads as an outsider closely allied with President Trump.

Ms. Black had hoped an endorsement from Mr. Trump would propel her to a primary victory. Her TV ads featured photos of herself with the president and clips of Mr. Trump praising her for her work on the tax law he signed last December. But no presidential endorsement came for Ms. Black, and GOP voters didn’t reward her for having the support of Mr. Pence. (WSJ)

Lee will face Democrat Karl Dean in the general election.