I don’t go into detail about every state race, but Thursday’s GOP primary for Tennessee Governor is worth your attention. The winner was underdog Bill Lee, a conservative businessman running against three well-funded and better-known political veterans, Rep. Diane Black, House Speaker Beth Harwell and former state economic development chief, Randy Boyd (full disclosure: I endorsed Boyd.) It was a contentious race with up to $40 million spent on the Republican side, too much of it on attack ads. As recently as last month, Lee was down by double digits in the polls, but he surged at the end, possibly because he was out touting his Christian values while the other candidates were attacking each other.
Let’s hope this campaign convinces other Republicans to keep their races civil and save the punaciousness for their real opponents in November. I also hope it convinces people to stop putting so much emphasis on polls, but it won’t.
In Tennessee, all the Republican candidates strongly aligned themselves with President Trump, but he didn’t endorse any particular one (Mike Pence did endorse Rep. Black). However, Lee is probably the most like Trump, and Tennessee voters must like that, because Trump carried Tennessee in 2016 by 26 points.
Lee will square off against former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in November, and as expected, the GOP candidate for Senate will be Rep. Marsha Blackburn, facing Democrat and former Gov. Phil Bredesen.