Saturday, September 29, 2018

Tennessee Governor- Race of the Day

38 Days Until Election Day

Tennessee Governor

Status: Republican Open
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Republican

Tennessee is among several states that has seen a pattern in recent decades of a Governor from one party serving two terms, and then being replaced by someone from the other party. The state is now considered so reliably Republican now though, that the party has been expected throughout to maintain the office of the popular term-limited Governor Bill Haslam. It is the state's open U.S. Senate seat, which includes a former Governor, where Democrats have their greatest hopes of a Volunteer State upset, but still, some will insist the race for Governor is also competitive.

A look at the number of candidates on the ballot for Governor is quite huge with all sorts of third-party and independent candidates. It looks like California's jungle primary. None of them are expected to be a factor though. Republicans and Democrats both selected their candidates on a Thursday primary in early August.

The Democrats had a less complex contest. Three candidates were on the ballot, but former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean easily beat State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh by a margin of 75-23. Based on polling, there was a huge surge at the end towards Dean. This was a contrast between a folksy small town politician from rural Tennessee in Fitzhugh and a more business-friendly urban figure in Dean. Fitzhugh was the more liberal of the two, and emblematic of the state's old Democrat tradition, but Dean had more natural support because those who remain as Democrats in the state, both African-American and white, tend to live in urban areas.

Republicans saw six contenders make it to the primary ballot, with four of them considered possible nominees, with many endorsements each, divided equally by gender. (The two long-shot candidates also included one female and one male, and two more serious candidates who dropped out were also male and female.) Additionally, retiring GOP U.S. Senator Bob Corker, no favorite of Donald Trump, was reportedly considering a run for Governor, but he did not do so.

In alphabetical order the main Republican candidates , were Congresswoman Diane Black, first elected in 2010, after serving in the Tennessee legislature, who had risen to become the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, a rare chairmanship for a Republican woman.

Then, there was Randy Boyd, the former Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. While he claimed the endorsement of Evangelical favorite Mike Huckabee, he also welcomed the fundraising support of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, whom Boyd had endorsed for President in his ill fated 2016 bid.

Next, was State House Speaker Beth Harwell. She cited her long experience in state government and the ability to get off the ground running as Governor. Like all the candidates, she stressed her conservative credentials, but also ran the risk of being an "insider" due to her long time in elective office.

Finally, was businessman Bill Lee, the most outsider of the major GOP contenders. He brought considerable personal wealth to the race as well as his story of becoming a more devoted Christian after his wife was killed in a horse riding accident in 2000. Also involved in philanthropic enterprises, Lee could claim the support of famous athletes and musicians in the state as well as political and religious leaders.

For months, it looked like all the major candidates had a decent chance of catching on with primary voters and winning the nomination with a plurality of the vote, although Harwell tended to underperform in polls and Lee was the least well-known. Most thought the contest would eventually come down to Black and Boyd. The Congresswoman was considered the favorite, as she claimed the mantle of Donald Trump in campaign ads and reminded voters that Boyd was a Jeb Bush supporter. Boyd did not strongly support Trump in the 2016 campaign, but claimed to be an ally while running for Governor. Trump did not formally endorse Black, (which might have made all the difference), but Vice President Pence did.) Perhaps, some votes might have been confused between her and her female colleague Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who was the presumptive GOP U.S. Senate nominee. They both have Black in their last name after all.

As often happens in crowded primaries, two candidates attacking each other leaves an opening for a third. Bill Lee apparently managed to stay above the fray for the most part and surged late with primary voters. At least some were surprised when he won the primary with a strong 37 percent of the vote. Boyd did manage to edge out Black 24-23, and Harwell finished with 15 percent.

Considering the overall victory of the reasonably moderate Karl Dean for Democrats and the divided GOP result, there is an opportunity for Democrats here. The party will certainly come closer than it did against Governor Haslam in his two wins, but it seems clear that Lee is popular personally and does not have a ton of political baggage. The post-primary polls have tended to show him over 50 percent and ahead of Dean by a reasonably solid margin. That seems to be the likely result in a very red state.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

15 D  (2 Safe, 3 Likely,  7 Leans, 3 Tossup) 
17 R   (2 Safe, 7 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

22 D (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 3 Likely, 7 Leans, 3 Tossup)
24 R (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 7 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)


At 3:16 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

GOP Hold because the TN Dems just do NOT have the stamina anymore.


Post a Comment

<< Home