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Bill Lee wins reelection as Tennessee governor

Charlane Oliver wins; Campbell and Kelly suffer losses

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Charlane Oliver
Governor Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee easily won reelection on Tuesday, beating Democratic candidate Dr. Jason Martin. 

According to Martin, Lee was “kind and gracious” during Martin’s concession call, also adding: “Don’t be discouraged tonight. We are going to keep building.” Lee won in all but two Tennessee Counties, Davidson and Shelby County. 

In 2018, Lee entered the race for governor as a conservative outsider and became the first back-to-back Republican governor elected since Reconstruction in Tennessee.

Lee’s campaign ran on the issues of prioritized rural improvement; expanding parents’ roles in education; tackling violent crime; pursuing criminal justice reform; and growing economic opportunity in Tennessee.  

Gov. Lee hailed the night as being momentous for him and his wife Maria.

“What a special night this is for me and Maria,” Lee said. “Being the governor for this state has been the honor of my life and I want to thank you and the people of Tennessee for giving me and Maria the opportunity to serve again.”

In the race for the newly drawn 5th Congressional District, Democrat Heidi Campbell (42%) lost to Republican Andy Ogles (56%).

The district was previously represented by Rep. Jim Cooper, who elected to retire from his seat rather than seek reelection after the redistricting process following the 2020 Census. Due to the redistricting, an error occurred causing some voters to cast early vote ballots in the wrong congressional district in Nashville.

Mark Green, in the new U.S. House District 7, easily defeated Democratic newcomer Odessa Kelly. 

“Although the outcome of this race wasn’t what we had hoped for, I’m tremendously proud of what we built these last 20 months,” said Kelly. “We always knew this was going to be a tough race. We faced just about every systemic hurdle that could possibly have been thrown at us. Instead of waiting 10 years for fair lines, we rose to the challenge. We knew this was about more than one election. This was about building a movement. We activated countless Tennesseans who had never participated in an election before. We knocked on thousands of doors that had never been knocked on. And we created an unprecedented Southern organizing infrastructure that we intend to expand and strengthen for elections to come. This journey has only just begun.”

In the State Senate, activist Charlane Oliver easily defeated her opponent, Republican Pime Hernandez. 

Oliver has pledged to introduce “legislation every year until we finally restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated Tennesseans.”

According to research by The Sentencing Project, 470,000 Tennesseans are among the 4.6 million Americans with felony convictions who are denied voting rights.

Additionally, Jeff Yarbro easily won reelection.

All four of the amendments passed, with the most contentious one, Amendment 1, passing with a strong majority.  Amendment 1, also known as the ‘Right to Work’ Amendment removes the requirement for mandatory labor union membership for employees as a condition of employment.

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