Tennessee Governor Candidates Square Off in 2nd Debate

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) - Democrat gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean says he would happily sign Medicaid expansion into law in Tennessee, while his opponent Republican Bill Lee countered he would oppose such efforts.

The two top candidates on Tuesday detailed their positions during the second gubernatorial debate at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center in Kingsport. Similar to the first debate, Dean and Lee refrained from aggressively attacking each other in an overall tame event.

Dean has made Medicaid expansion -- as allowed under former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act -- one of his top priorities along the campaign trail. Lee says the state should come up with a plan that doesn't involve relying on federal funding.

A third debate has also been scheduled for this week on Oct. 12 in Nashville.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini released the following statement after the debate:

“Tonight’s debate proved that experience-driven solutions will prevail over vague and cliched generalities, and that’s what this race is about. Voters want concrete plans to move our state forward, which Karl Dean delivers and Bill Lee does not. What Bill Lee does deliver are positions that are out of touch with Tennesseans: he is against Medicaid expansion, he plans to defund public schools in favor of vouchers, and he wants to arm teachers in the classroom. While Karl Dean offered common-sense plans that embrace Tennessee values and focus on issues that Tennesseans care deeply about -- high quality public education, good-paying jobs, and access to healthcare -- Bill Lee demonstrated that he is too extreme for Tennessee.”

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