Gov. Bill Lee wraps up low-key campaign for second term

By: - November 7, 2022 10:31 pm
Andrew Towle prayed for strength to be given to Gov. Bill Lee on Nov. 7, 2022. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Andrew Towle prayed for strength to be given to Gov. Bill Lee on Nov. 7, 2022. Lee won reelection by an almost 40% margin of victory.(Photo: John Partipilo)

Winding up his four-day “Tennessee Works” campaign swing across the state, Gov. Bill Lee addressed a hometown crowd in Franklin on Monday night, saying Tennessee under his leadership sets an example for states across the country. 

Lee was joined by a lineup of Tennessee Republican officials, including U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

The theme of the night was Tennessee’s success as a business destination and reputation as a conservative state.  

“Quite frankly, Tennessee is one of the most moved-to states in the country. We’re one of those states that companies from all over the country are coming to because of our business environment that creates opportunities for Tennesseans from one end of the state to another,” Lee told the medium-size crowd at The Factory, an event space near downtown Franklin. 

“People want a good job and a good school for their kids and a safe neighborhood and everyone doesn’t yet have that. Everyone doesn’t yet have that safe neighborhood, everyone doesn’t yet have that good school for their kids, but we’re moving in that direction.” 

Lee gave a handful of specifics on his plans for public education, should he win an additional four-year term, saying he plans to bump pay raises for teachers and “continue to provide choice for parents through those public charters (schools) and the expansion of our Education Savings Account program.”

Of the corporate incentives handed out to businesses such as General Motors, Ford and the Tennessee Titans, ”The opportunity for Tennesseans by investing in things that create opportunity and job creation in particular is absolutely a free market conservative idea,” Lee said.  

The governor has conducted a low-profile campaign, scarcely acknowledging his Democratic opponent Dr. Jason Martin, whom Lee declined to debate and, until the last week, engaged in little retail campaigning. 

Lee defended his decision to provide an interview with national right-wing outlet Daily Wire, while conducting few interviews with local media outlets. 

“I think we had seven, eight press availabilities in the last four days. We talk to media extensively,” said Lee.

Similarly, when questioned about his decision to not debate, Lee characterized it as simply a campaign decision, saying he wanted to be “face to face with Tennesseans.” 

Andrew Towle of Bellevue was one of those Tennesseans meeting with Lee on Monday. Towle, a strapping man with flowing red hair and matching beard, said a friend gave him information about the night’s event and he felt compelled to attend.

“I just wanted to pray over him,” said Towle, before grasping Lee’s hands in both of his and praying for strength to be given to Lee in “these trying and uncertain times.”

Alex Sharp gets his Bill Lee yard sign autographed by the governor on Nov. 7, 2022 in Franklin. (Photo: John Partipilo)
Alex Sharp gets his Bill Lee yard sign autographed by the governor on Nov. 7, 2022 in Franklin. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Holly McCall
Holly McCall

Holly McCall has been a fixture in Tennessee media and politics for decades. She covered city hall for papers in Columbus, Ohio and Joplin, Missouri before returning to Tennessee with the Nashville Business Journal. She has served as political analyst for WZTV Fox 17 and provided communications consulting for political campaigns at all levels, from city council to presidential. Holly brings a deep wealth of knowledge about Tennessee’s political processes and players and likes nothing better than getting into the weeds of how political deals are made.