In a surprise move, GOP gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd launched an ad attacking Republican rival Bill Lee on Tuesday.
Conventional political wisdom has held that Lee’s resurgent surge in the polls has come primarily at the expense of fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06), and primarily in Middle Tennessee. To date, Boyd’s attacks had been focused on Black, but Tuesday’s ads attacking Lee indicates that the Boyd campaign may now feel that Lee’s surge could now also be coming at the expense of Boyd.
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said the fact that both Boyd and Black are now turning their fire towards Lee underlines the recent surge that he has enjoyed in recent weeks.
“By all accounts this race has tightened and the next few weeks will be a wild ride for the candidates and their campaigns. Those who can react and counter punch effectively have the best chance of coming out on top; minimizing or eliminating mistakes as the fatigue and pressure of a hot and long campaign season races to conclusion is critical,” Gill said.
“At this stage, a candidate can’t do anything spectacular enough to win, but can make an error that results in losing. That’s why this is such a tough business, you have to be bold enough to stand out, but cautious enough not to screw up, which is an extremely difficult combination,” Gill concluded.
In the ad, Boyd makes three charges against Lee:
- He was president of a statewide group that lobbied in support of amnesty for illegal aliens
- He donated to disgraced liberal Democrat Mayor of Nashville Megan Barry
- He did not support President Trump in 2016
You can watch the ad here.
The Lee campaign hit back on Wednesday.
“All three of Bill Lee’s opponents are attacking him now, so that’s a good indicator of where we are in this campaign – we’re surging and have all the momentum. Tennesseans see through these deceptive attacks. It’s pretty clear, when all the politicians are coming after you, your campaign is in strong position to win,” an advisor to the Lee campaign told The Tennessee Star.
The advisor did not directly address the ad’s allegation that Lee was president of a statewide organization that lobbied in support of amnesty for illegal aliens.
“Re: the immigration/ABC thing, point you to Toby Compton’s comments to the Tennessean today on this subject,” the advisor noted.
Here is the relevant aspect of that article:
Toby Compton, current president of the Tennessee chapter, said the previous positions on immigration were adopted by the national organization, which consists of more than 300 people.
“It’s a stretch to say Bill was in this cabal to support amnesty,” Compton said.
According to his campaign bio, Bill Lee is a past president of the Tennessee Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. Toby Compton is the group’s former president. In 2016, the ABC and other groups that are members of the Partnership for a New America supported amnesty.
The Lee campaign advisor also pushed back on the Boyd ad statement that Lee did not support President Trump in 2016.
“Bill has said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he voted for President Trump, attended his inauguration, and is glad to see how effective he has been,” the Lee campaign advisor said.
In a Statesman’s Speech earlier this year, Lee offered this comment on President Trump (at about the 3:00 mark):
In 2016, this nation woke up again, but thankfully we woke up to a President who came from outside of government, who is not a politician, who is an outsider. A President who cared more about the future of his country than he cared about the future of his political career. President Donald Trump created a new day in America.
As The Star reported last month, Bill Lee did not make a donation to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, though he contributed to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign and John McCain’s 2008 campaign.
The Lee campaign advisor noted, accurately, that neither Randy Boyd nor Diane Black contributed to Trump’s campaign in 2016.
The Lee campaign offered no response to ad’s statement that Lee donated to former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry.
As The Star reported in February, Bill Lee donated $500 to Megan Barry’s campaign in 2015.