Dean and Lee in first debate of Tennessee's race for governor

Oct 3, 2018

Gubernatorial candidates Bill Lee (Left) and Karl Dean.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee says expanding Medicaid in Tennessee would be a mistake. 

Last night in Memphis Republican Lee faced off against Democratic candidate Karl Dean. Lee noted rising health care costs are a big challenge for his Williamson County business, but he doesn’t think Medicaid expansion is the answer.


“Taking federal money and moving something down the road that is fundamentally flawed I believe is a mistake for Tennessee.”


Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean argues in favor of Medicaid expansion, saying Tennesseans are sending Medicaid taxes to Washington and so should get the health care they’ve already paid for.


“So this money is leaving our state and it’s going to 34 other states that get the benefit of it and we don’t.”


Lee and Dean also offered very different ideas for addressing gun violence. Dean says he respects the Second Amendment, but also asks,


“Can’t we agree that people with criminal records, people who’ve committed domestic violence, who have made threats, or may suffer from a mental illness should not have access to guns.”


Lee didn’t address gun violence directly, but suggested Tennessee get smarter about dealing with crime and incarceration.


“We need to address those most egregious criminals in a profoundly serious way, and yet at the same time look hard at the way we intake and re-enter folks if we really want to reduce the crime rate.”


Dean and Lee responded to about 20 questions in a low key debate at the University of Memphis.

Two more debates are scheduled ahead of the November 6 election, including an October 12 meeting here in Nashville.