Political novice Bill Lee runs surprisingly savvy primary campaign for governor

Aug 3, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A veteran Tennessee political analyst is crediting Bill Lee’s advertising strategy for his win in the Republican primary for governor.

Bill Lee
Credit Bill Lee

Middle Tennessee State Political Scientist Kent Syler says the Franklin businessman had less money than his opponents, less name recognition going into the race, and less political experience. But Bill Lee won the contest with a decicive twelve point margin.

Professor Syler says the political novice’s TV ads were extremely effective.

“He looked sincere when he was talking to the camera, talking to voters, and I think that helped his message resonate.”

Syler also notes that Bill Lee chose not to use attack ads, when his opponents went negative late in the campaign. Syler says Lee’s strategy was surprisingly subtle.

“He responded with a kind of attack on negative advertising, which, interestingly, was still a pretty good attack on his opponents and their tactics. Even saying in one ad ‘It kinda shows you what kind of people they are.’”

Syler notes that of all the Republicans running for governor, Bill Lee was the candidate who made the least effort to tie himself to President Donald Trump. It's an interesting strategy in a state where the president remains extremely popular.

Lee faces off in November against former Nashville Mayor Karl. Dean won the Democratic Primary for governor in a landslide, beating out Tennessee House Minority Caucus Leader Craig Fitzhugh.

Both Karl Dean and Bill Lee were the moderate candidates in their respective races.