Underdog Bill Lee surges to win Tennessee GOP gubernatorial primary pivotal Senate race takes shape
Underdog conservative outsider Bill Lee upset a crowded field of properly-funded, much better-known candidates to win Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial major Thursday, sending shockwaves through a state where he was down double-digits in polls as not too long ago as last month.
U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who had the endorsement of Vice President Mike Pence, was the clear favored in the race. Former state financial improvement chief Randy Boyd, who had the backing of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, was extensively regarded as Black’s chief rival.
But President Trump, who has a 56 percent approval rating in Tennessee, stopped short of endorsing any candidate in the race, like Black — in spite of maintaining her by his side and praising her at a number of events.
Lee, a businessman whose poll numbers surged drastically in the last week of the campaign, took advantage of infighting among his rivals, as he traveled the state and touted his Christian values although Boyd and Black sparred.
On the eve of the major vote, supporters of Black’s campaign, probably realizing the threat posed by Lee’s insurgent candidacy, released an attack advertisement suggesting Lee’s firm had terminated an employee and Army National Guard member for becoming deployed.
Lee strongly denied the allegations, and his organization sent out a cease-and-desist letter concerning the messaging.
Harsh rhetoric in the campaign was backed by huge funds. The prime 4 Republican contenders for governor, which includes Black, Lee, Boyd, and State Home Speaker Beth Harwell, spent a combined $40 million of their own private wealth fighting over who is more devoted to Trump, setting records and underscoring the president’s continuing influence in state races. The candidates have been searching for to replace the state’s term-restricted Gov. Bill Haslam.
Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, a moderate, won the Democratic principal for the state’s governorship, defeating state Property Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh in a largely cordial race. But the surprising final results in the Republican gubernatorial main contest will reverberate nationally, serving as a bellwether for Trump enthusiasm and establishment influence in a state that supported the president by double digits in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Democratic and Republican Senate primaries on Thursday provided less drama, but posed probably even greater national significance.
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn won the Republican nomination in Tennessee’s open U.S. Senate race to replace the retiring Sen. Bob Corker, which holds main implications for Democrats’ possibilities for overturning the 51-49 Republican Senate majority in November.
Blackburn very easily overcame minimal opposition in Thursday’s main. She and former Gov. Phil Bredesen, who won the state’s Democratic main on Thursday, have extended looked past the primaries to their upcoming basic election matchup.
Polls have shown Blackburn and Bredesen are neck-and-neck in the race, which Fox News currently assesses is a tossup. Blackburn could become the 1st woman elected to the U.S. Senate by Tennessee voters.
She calls herself a "hardcore, card-carrying Tennessee conservative" who would fight for President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Bredesen is operating as an independent thinker who says he will function with Trump when his ideas make sense for Tennessee and oppose him when they do not.
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The Blackburn-Bredesen showdown is amongst many races essential to Trump&rsquos plans to keep control of the Senate, where Republicans are defending a narrow two-seat majority. If Democrats retake the Senate, it would deal a significant blow to Trump’s agenda, hampering his potential to appoint federal judges and all but killing the prospect of signature initiatives like a southern border wall.
Trump has endorsed Blackburn, an eight-term congresswoman, and traveled to Tennessee in Could to campaign for her. Blackburn told Fox News at the time that Trump’s help had helped her candidacy construct "momentum."
Blackburn served on Trump&rsquos transition team and has not shied away from embracing the president. She is a single of the lawmakers who signed onto a letter nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In a Thursday look, Governor Haslam touted Blackburn’s candidacy. The governor suggested that maintaining Republican Senate manage is important in portion because Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander would drop his health committee chairmanship, among other leadership modifications.
Bredesen, 74, has helped his viability in the red state by assuring voters that he is not hyperpartisan and promising he is not &ldquorunning against&rdquo Trump. If elected, he will grow to be the initial Democrat to win a Senate campaign in the Volunteer State because Al Gore in 1990.
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A Harvard graduate worth tens of millions of dollars, Bredesen has touted his enterprise credentials, saying they will assist him win more than &ldquoeconomic Republicans, the much more standard-minded Republicans" in November.
He also has received some high-profile assistance of his own. Corker, a Republican and frequent Trump critic, has praised Bredesen in the race, calling him a "very excellent mayor, a really great governor, a extremely good organization particular person."
By contrast, Corker has often had harsh words for Trump. In a dramatic moment at a hearing in July, for instance, Corker pressed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to clarify what he characterized as Trump’s "purposeful" efforts to sow misinformation and discord.
WATCH: POMPEO FIGHTS BACK After CORKER HITS TRUMP FOR SOWING ‘DISTRUST’ ON Purpose
Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has previously acknowledged his attacks on Trump may well not be endearing him to a lot of of his constituents.
Tennessee, like its southern neighbors, was after dominated by Democrats. But it hasn’t elected one to statewide office since 2006, and in 2012 Republicans secured supermajorities in each houses for the 1st time since Reconstruction.
Voters also decided on nominees for nine Home races on Thursday.
Fox News’ Kaitlyn Schallhorn and The Connected Press contributed to this report.
Published at Fri, 03 Aug 2018 02:15:00 +0000