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VOL. 46 | NO. 44 | Friday, November 4, 2022

Tennessee Gov. Lee kicks off bus tour in reelection bid

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CROSSVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and a slew of fellow top Republicans filed out of a tour bus into a restaurant packed with supporters on Thursday, starting the final push in a reelection effort that has so far been defined by doing business as usual as governor, running TV ads and paying no mind to his Democratic opponent, Jason Martin.

Lee spent most of his time talking one-on-one to people at Express Lunch in Crossville, the first stop on a dayslong bus tour leading up to Election Day on Tuesday. He also shared some nostalgia with the attendees.

The governor said he stopped at the same place for lunch in 2018 on the first day of early voting when he was campaigning. Lee said someone he introduced himself to there told him he already voted for him. He said it was a reminder of the "enormous responsibility we have to protect liberty and defend freedom."

"I got all choked up," Lee said. "I said, 'Nobody's ever told me that before in my whole life.'"

Lee kept his comments to the crowd in broad strokes that didn't touch on policy, as he eyes the finish line of a contest in which he has enjoyed consistently strong polls in a state that favors the GOP. This time around, he avoided the kind of bruising Republican primary that defined his first run in 2018.

Martin, a critical care physician who joined the race as an opponent of Lee's largely hands-off approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, has said he's seen momentum due to the Supreme Court decision overturning constitutional abortion rights, and Lee's signing of an abortion bill that doesn't explicitly exempt those performed to save a mother's life. Lee has declined to debate Martin, saying he's busy with the duties of his office.

Martin also has criticized Lee's school choice priorities as detrimental to public schools and called for Medicaid expansion that Republicans have rejected.

Lee has enjoyed a huge fundraising advantage that allows him to pepper TV airwaves with positive ads that herald his first four years in office in the Republican-voting state.

His latest ad focuses on education, referring to restrictions against some discussions on race and sexuality in schools by saying, "Parents now have a say in what's taught and what isn't. And kids are learning valuable skills, without the divisive politics."

He told the AP that if he's reelected, he wants to focus on further infrastructure improvements, from roads and bridges to broadband.

"We need to make certain that that momentum that Tennessee has doesn't stop," he said.

Lee had plenty of Republican reinforcements on hand as well, including U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Rep. John Rose, his deputy governor Butch Eley, state GOP chairman Scott Golden, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton and some other state lawmakers.

Lee defeated a Democratic opponent by 21 percentage points in 2018 after emerging from a bruising Republican primary. The last Democratic governor in Tennessee was Phil Bredesen, who served from 2003 until 2011.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0