Williamson County businessman Bill Lee won the Tennessee Republican gubernatorial primary Thursday night in a blowout victory.
The Associated Press called the race for Lee at 9:07 pm central p.m., but the results were clear within half an hour of polls closing at 7 pm, as Lee took a big lead in early voting he never relinquished.
With almost all precincts in the state reporting, Bill Lee had 37 percent of the vote, compared to second place finisher Randy Boyd, who had 24 percent. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06) finished in third place with 23 percent of the vote, and Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) finished in 4th place with 15 percent.
Lee’s 13 point margin of victory was stunning, particularly in light of expectations in the last week of the campaign that it was a neck and neck three way battle between Lee, Black, and Boyd that was too close to call.
In the end, it was a blowout victory for Lee, who has never held elected office or been employed by the federal or state government before.
Boyd called Lee to concede the race at about 9 p.m. eastern, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
The raw vote totals, as reported by the Tennessee Secretary of State at 10:30 pm eastern were:
Randy Boyd –189,248
Total Votes — 775,351
Lee will now face former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who easily defeated State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) in the Democratic primary, in the November general election.