Tennessee Star Report: How Will Gov-Elect Lee Follow Up on School Choice Campaign Pledge?

In a specific discussion on Tuesday morning’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the duo contemplated Bill Lee’s current cabinets picks and the absence of any conservatives.  The conversation continued about whether or not Lee would hold true to his “school choice” (or more specifically “parent choice”) campaign pledge and why it needs to become a bill and why it hasn’t in the past. At the end of the segment, Leahy urged Lee to provide leadership on this matter.

Gill: We’ve been talking a little bit about the Bill Lee transition process and who’s been put into place in his senior positions and cabinet positions who are being added as we speak.  Who are “whispering in his ear” to direct his assembling of his senior leadership team and cabinet.  And you’re welcome to join us, 615-737-9522.  Bill Lee and his team have not been able to find any conservatives any consistent dependable conservatives to serve in the senior positions of his administration at this point.  They’ve appointed roughly twelve cabinet level positions including commissioner of financing and administration, agriculture, commerce and insurance, tourism, safety and homeland security, banking.  You can go to Tennesseestar.com and read kind of our analysis of the people he’s putting in place.

Now I don’t have anything against these people personally, you know I’m sure they’re fine people.  The one’s I know are nice people.  The one’s I don’t, I’m sure they’re nice people.  That’s not the question.  The questions is Bill Lee ran as a conservative and claimed he was a conservative.  And you had a lot of his supporters saying, “Well I’m voting for Bill Lee because Randy Boyd is a moderate and Diane Black is too much Washington.”

I don’t see anybody appointed so far by Bill Lee that is less moderate than what we would have seen under the worst case scenario from a Randy Boyd.  So the people who were against Randy Boyd because they perceived him as too moderate.  They ought to be appalled by what Bill Lee has done and is continuing to do and share your thoughts.  If you think Bill Lee is doing what he promised.  He’s a conservative and he’s making conservative appointments than certainly weigh in. If you’re having buyers remorse as I’m hearing from people all over the state, 615-737-9522 feel free to weigh in on that.  And if you know conservatives that he out to be considering that apparently they’re not.

They can’t find anybody because the Democrat lobbyists who are whispering in their ear, who in some cases are trying to put their spouses in to senior positions, yeah that’s right.  Democrat lobbyists are working and having support from the Democrats that Bill Lee has surrounded himself with to put Democrat leadership into the cabinet or blocking conservatives if they’re conservative names because I’ve got people saying, “Well who would you hire Steve?” We’ll talk a little bit about that, I’d love to have your insight…

Leahy: Sure.

Gill: As well, 615-737-9522.

Leahy: I have two points here. Number one.  Personnel is policy. That’s a standard rule and proven all the time.

Gill: Trump is proving it in Washington.

Leahy: Absolutely.

Gill: If you don’t put conservatives in, you don’t see your agenda put into place.

Leahy: But number two is, in fairness to Governor-elect Lee, he’s not articulated what his policy agenda will be at a specific level.  He’s had some sort of broad generic campaign pledges one of which…

Gill: But his campaign commercials didn’t lay out a specific agenda other than…

Leahy: I’m a nice guy.

Gill:  I know how to weld and I’m nicer than the other two people.

Leahy: Which it’s probably true.

Gill: Which is a good thing.

Leahy: Yeah it’s a good thing. So but here I’m going to tell you what I think is the most important potential policy issue.  And we’ve got a story about it actually in The Tennessee Star,  “School Choice Provides Flexible Options That Fits students Unique Needs Beacon Center Says at Jackson Event.” Now, Governor-elect Lee made school choice one of his priorities now, school choice is a broad agenda, right? It’s broad there’s a lot of stuff you can put in there.

Gill:  And his announced policy director Tony Niknejad, is a guy who has a track record, has worked aggressively to promote vouchers and school choice. So he’s got a guy on the inner circle who could promote that particular policy.

Leahy and Gill closed the conversation discussing their position on school choice and agreed that it was the best option for Tennessee. Leahy was convinced that the public schools are lost for several reasons but more specifically due to poor teaching about American history, the Constitution, civics,  and citizenship.

The most important thing Lee could do, according to Leahy, is to make his number one issue an effort to invoke a “specific bill” supporting school choice.

Gill reflected on past legislation where school choice and vouchers came up, however, it was never embraced and was blocked by teachers unions as well as rural conservative legislators that agree with school choice yet are unable to promote it because their districts have more teacher voters than folks who will send their kids to private school.  This is an issue that is crying out for leadership, Leahy said.

“Bill Lee if you’re listening, its time to lead on school vouchers and school choice,” Leahy concluded.


Listen to the full segment:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Bill Lee” by Bill Lee. 


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5 Thoughts to “Tennessee Star Report: How Will Gov-Elect Lee Follow Up on School Choice Campaign Pledge?”

  1. 83ragtop50

    Before the primary election i was skeptical of Mr. Lee’s supposed conservative bent. He has done nothing since to make me believe differently. It appears that he is loading up his high-level positions with what might be at best termed moderates. I am afraid that Mr. Lee is nice guy who is in way over his head. I sure hope that I am wrong but I see him as a continuation of the Haslam reign which is certainly not conservative.

  2. Benny Jones

    Again I personally will assure this author (The Star) and all Tennesseans that Soon to be Governor Bill Lee will seek and appoint the most qualified individuals for any and all positions to be filled. This he will do without political baggage from any Source, May I add ladies and gentlemen this is what we elected him to do. I am personally glad our State will have such unencumbered leadership which leads us only to the better for all concerned. Bill Lee will not let you down

  3. Ralph

    Governor-elect Lee made school choice a central part of his campaign. He has not deviated from that position. In another article, this newspaper cites portions of an interview Bill Lee granted to the Tennessean where, again, he reaffirmed his commitment to school choice. This article also notes that one of the appointments he made was to an individual with demonstrated commitment to school choice. Yet, for all of that, you publish this article with a headline that attempts to cast doubt on his commitment to school choice. That does not further your credibility, just the opposite.

    I attended several Bill Lee campaign events, briefly chatted with him, shook his hand, and looked him in the eye; moreover, I read his book, and analyzed his platform relative to the other candidates.

    I had no doubt he was the best of all the candidates, one of the easiest votes I’ve ever cast, both in the primary and in the general elections. His actions so far reflect that of a man who has been elected to represent not just staunch conservatives, but all Tennesseans. Over 40% of the voters voted for someone other than Bill Lee; it’s part of his job to convince those who voted for him, as well as those who did not, that he will put together a team and establish policies that will fulfill his campaign platform of safe neighborhoods, good education, and good jobs. So far, so good – he hasn’t even been sworn in and is still putting together his team. Some will get with the program, some won”t – Bill Lee has the ability to discern that. Informed citizenry can too; hopefully this newspaper will help inform, rather than distract. Please leave lurid “click-bait” headlines to those with less integrity, or lose an informed and discerning readership; another instance of “choice.”

  4. Kevin

    There is an old saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” I believe that when the final chapter is written, Bill Lee will be remembered as a great Governor! And I believe that he fully understands the need to instill in our children, through a robust and flexible education system, the principles that made America great. This includes, but is not limited to, a thorough understanding of the brilliance of our founding documents, a thorough grasp of reading, writing, and arithmetic, a general knowledge of how “stuff” works, and finally, to be critical thinkers!

    That said, I have not and will not ever accept being ruled by a King and his band of Aristocrats. It is incumbent on all Tennesseans to exercise their duty and actively engage with their elected representatives, including Governor-elect Bill Lee. If Bill Lee “goes off the rails” it will be because we citizens did not hold him to the highest of standards!

    America has not faltered because her leaders have faulted. She has faltered because we citizens have faltered!