NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) - Republican businessman Bill Lee has won the Tennessee Governor’s race, defeating former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.
Lee – a cattle farmer and chairman of a mechanical contracting, facilities, and home services company – will replace Governor Bill Haslam, who assumed office in 2011.
President Trump endorsed Lee following his primary win back in August.
Several polls, including one from CNN, indicated that Lee had a double-digit lead over Dean as recent as November 1.
Throughout the campaign, Lee and Dean sparred frequently on issues ranging from education to guns to healthcare.
Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) released the following statement on the unofficial election results:
"I would like to congratulate Bill Lee on his victorious campaign for governor. After watching how Bill connects with people and inspires our citizens, I am convinced he is the perfect person to lead our state at this moment. We are in strong position as a state but there is more left to do. Bill is an executive and CEO who is just as comfortable on a farm or factory floor as he is in a boardroom. As a state, Tennessee is on the cusp of moving to the next level and truly leading the nation. Bill Lee is the next level leader who can take us there."
Gov. Bill Haslam also issued the following statement on Governor-elect Bill Lee:
“Congratulations to Governor-elect Bill Lee on a well-run race. Tennesseans have made a great choice for our next governor. Bill Lee is a man with strong character and love for our state and will make the right decisions to keep Tennessee moving forward. I am excited to see what this state will accomplish under his leadership.”
However, while Lee gave his victory speech, Karl Dean's campaign manager energized the crowd at his watch party by saying, "Nobody should be giving a victory speech."
VIDEO: Strong words from @KarlFDean’s campaign despite Bill Lee claiming win. “Nobody should be giving a victory speech.” Campaign says results still have not come in from the bigger counties. pic.twitter.com/g8HBgnKjYt— Matthew Torres (@NC5_MTorres) November 7, 2018
Representative Jim Cooper also said it was too early to call the race and took issue with the fact that a victory was called by Lee's campaign while people were still voting.