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Democratic candidates debate ahead of gubernatorial primary

Democratic governor candidates debate tndp June 2022
Posted at 10:23 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 23:34:01-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Will a Democrat have a chance to become Tennessee's next governor?

Three Democratic hopefuls faced off Tuesday evening in a primary debate, hoping to eventually upset Republican Governor Bill Lee.

A Democrat hasn’t won a statewide office in Tennessee since 2006.

Tuesday's debate was one of three put on by the Tennessee Democratic party.

The race is between Dr. Carnita Atwater, a former nurse and community leader from West Tennessee; Dr. Jason Martin, a Nashville Physician and Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley, Jr.

The three debated issues like gun control, education funding and healthcare, but they’ve got to win the race in November to enact any changes.

The candidates spoke about how a Democrat could possibly win in Tennessee.

"We’re not going to cede a single county," said Martin. "Those 80/20 Trump counties, they’re hurting right now. Their schools are crumbling, their hospitals are closing, because there’s not access to healthcare. We need to engage them and tell them our agenda is their agenda."

"What we should have done is send out questionnaires so we know the people who can help us," Atwater said. "And also put money into the community so we can do things like fliers and advertisements to help boots on the ground."

"We have to go to every community and figure out how to get the non-voting base excited about this election," Smiley said. "We can nominate someone we’ve seen before or we can do something completely different."

The statewide primary race including the Democratic Primary for Governor is August 4.