“Williamson County businessman Bill Lee, who is filing as a candidate for Governor tomorrow, will hold a media availability at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, talking about the kickoff of his ’95 Counties, 95 Days RV Tour’ and his plans as he begins his campaign running for Governor of Tennessee,” Lee’s campaign said in a media advisory released on Sunday:
Bill Lee is the Chairman of Lee Company, a family-owned construction, facilities and home services company with offices and operations throughout Middle Tennessee, Northern Alabama and Southern Kentucky. Lee Company employs more than 1,100 people.
Lee currently serves on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Belmont University Board of Trustees, is president of Tennesseans for Economic Growth and is past chairman of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. He serves on the board of Men of Valor Prison Ministry and has been involved with in faith-based ministries in Africa, Central America, Haiti and Iraq.
The event will be held at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, located at 900 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in Nashville.
Lee joins former Haslam administration TECD commissioner Randy Boyd, a successful Knoxville businessman, as the only announced candidate for the GOP nomination for Governor.
Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor.
State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) was considered the conservative favorite for the GOP nomination, but his nomination to be Secretary of the Army by President Trump has ended speculation that he will run.
Though financially successful, Lee has no political experience. Little is known of his political philosophy, though political insiders suggest he is most comfortable with the Republican establishment approach to government characteristic of the Haslam administration.
Lee has yet to make known his position on the gas tax increases included in the
Improve Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” recently passed by both the Tennessee House of Representatives and the Tennessee State Senate.
What is known about his political philosophy, at least as seen by recent donations made to the Williamson Business PAC by the company he controls is not seen as encouraging by Tennessee’s conservatives.
In 2016, the Lee Company, which he continues to run as chairman, donated $5,000 to Williamson Business PAC to support six Williamson County Schools Board candidates favored by current Williamson County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney, a champion of Common Core and a number of other educational initiatives that are troublesome to conservatives.
“Williamson Inc., the combined economic development group and chamber of commerce for Williamson County, has formed its first political action committee. In a release Wednesday, the group announced formation of the Williamson Business PAC, which plans to weigh in on both local and state elections,” the Nashville Biz Blog reported in February 2016.
Williamson Business PAC is a strong supporter of Governor Haslam’s
IMPROVE Act, “Tax Cut Act of 2017.”
“Before the General Assembly convened this session, we had already met with our full legislative delegation and assured each of them they would have our support as they supported the governor’s plan and navigated the law-making waters,” Mark Cleveland wrote on its website on March 30:
Today, the PAC applauds the efforts of Sen. Jack Johnson for his affirmative vote on the Senate State & Local Government Committee and Rep. Sam Whitson for his affirmative votes on both the House Transportation Subcommittee and House Transportation Committee. We watch with anticipation the continued supportive efforts by Majority Leader Rep. Glen Casada and Rep. Charles Sargent, who chairs the House Finance Ways & Means Committee, as well as sits on the House Finance Ways & Means Subcommittee.
Other candidates said to be considering entering the race for the GOP nomination for Governor include Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), both of whom damaged their credibility among conservatives in the state with their support for the Governor’s gas tax increase bill.
Norris was consistently in favor of the
IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017” since its introduction by Governor Haslam in January.
Harwell, though initially supportive, waivered towards the end, indicating her support for the Hawk Plan that reallocated sales taxes rather than increasing gas taxes to fund road construction. In the end, however, Harwell failed to deliver, and she voted yes on the final floor vote in favor of the
IMPROVE Act “Tax Cut Act of 2017.”