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Gubernatorial hopeful Lee rejects Black’s claim that he’s ‘moderate’

Hank Hayes • Updated Jul 3, 2018 at 11:23 AM

COLONIAL HEIGHTS — Tennessee GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee rejected Republican rival Diane Black’s TV attack ad calling him a “moderate” after he addressed a packed town hall meeting Monday night at Arby’s on Fort Henry Drive.

“When your campaign is surging and others are struggling, they attack,” Lee, a Williamson County businessman and cattle farmer, said. “I’m a conservative and have been a longtime conservative.”

Lee is in a GOP primary battle with Black, Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell to win the right to compete in the November general election.

Lee addressed these questions:

Why did you give campaign money to former Gov. Phil Bredesen and ex-Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, both Democrats?

“In business, we make business decisions. I remember when President Trump was criticized for business contributions as well. … I have contributed in the last 15 years $160,000 to campaigns, 99.7 percent of those contributions have been Republican because I am a lifetime committed conservative.”

There was a complaint filed with the state alleging you have been using your company to fuel your campaign. What do you want to say about that?

“There’s nothing to it.”

There was a story in The Tennessean about your company receiving state contracts. If elected governor, what would you do to eliminate conflicts of interest?

“It’s very important we have no conflicts of interest, which is why we will not have state contracts when I am governor. Our contracts comprise less than one percent of our annual revenues, so we have decided we will just end those contracts so there is no conflict.”

Will you support President Trump?

“I will support President Trump. … He’s accomplished a lot of really great things. I look forward to working with him accomplishing things for our country. At the same time, it’s my responsibility to do things for the citizens of Tennessee. I think we can work together to create win-win scenarios.”

What differentiates you from the other candidates?

“The distinguishing factor is I am not an insider or a politician. I have not been involved in government. I don’t have years of work in that system. … I do think it’s freeing for me not to be beholden to anybody. … I don’t have relationships with lobbyists.”

What do you think of illegal immigration?

“What’s most disappointing is our Congress has failed us for decades on immigration. … Fortunately, the president is willing to force the issue to be addressed. States have a role as well. … We can institute policy that either makes Tennessee an attractive place for illegal immigrants or we can institute a policy that makes this state not one they would want to come to.”

What’s your position on taxes?

“Any tax is a bad tax. … Taxes are necessary because there are things like roads that need to be maintained. … You’re looking at a guy committed to funding infrastructure for maintenance and expansion in this state. … We tell our clients that deferring maintenance is a really bad idea.”

If you would like a question answered by Lee, send an email to: [email protected]

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