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Bill Lee (Tennessee politician) Information

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Bill Lee
TN Governor Bill Lee 2019 May.jpg
50th Governor of Tennessee
Assumed office
January 19, 2019
Lieutenant Randy McNally
Preceded by Bill Haslam
Personal details
Born (1959-10-09) October 9, 1959 (age 59)
Franklin, Tennessee, U.S.
Political party Republican
Carol Ann Lee
( m. 1984; died 2000)

Maria Lee ( m. 2008)
Residence Governor's Mansion
Education Auburn University ( BS)

William Byron Lee (born October 9, 1959) [1] is an American businessman and politician serving as the 50th governor of Tennessee since 2019. [2]

Elected in 2018, Lee campaigned as a business-oriented Republican. [3] Before entering politics, he held various positions at the Lee Company, an inherited family business; he was the company's president and CEO from 1992 to 2016. [4]

Early life and career

Lee was raised on his family's 1,000-acre cattle farm started by his grandparents in Franklin, Tennessee, the Triple L Ranch; the family raises Hereford cattle. [5]

After graduating from Franklin High School in his hometown, [6] Lee entered Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama in 1977 and graduated in 1981 [7] with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. [5] In college, Lee was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternity known at the time for its use of Confederate imagery, and a photo printed in the university's 1980 yearbook shows Lee wearing a Confederate military uniform at the fraternity's " Old South" party. [8] In 2019, after his attendance came to light, Lee expressed regret for his participation: "I never intentionally acted in an insensitive way, but with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that participating in that was insensitive and I've come to regret it." [7]

Lee was named President and CEO of his family's home-services and construction company, Lee Company, holding the position from 1992 until 2016. [5] [9] He briefly served as Chairman. [9]

Governor of Tennessee

2018 election

In April 2017 Lee announced his candidacy the 2018 election for governor of Tennessee. [9] A self-described social conservative, Lee also targeted pro-business Republicans. [9] In the Republican primary election, he ran against Congresswoman Diane Black, Knoxville businessman and former Tennessee Economic and Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, and state House speaker Beth Harwell. [9] [10] Originally considered a longshot, Lee rose in the polls as Boyd and Black launched negative advertising against each other. [2] [11] He won the August 2 primary with 291,414 votes (36.8%) to Boyd's 193,054 (24.3%), Black's 182,457 (23.0%), and Harwell's 121,484 (15.3%). [12]

Lee defeated the Democratic nominee, former Nashville mayor Karl Dean, in the November 6 general election, [13] receiving 1,336,106 votes (59.5%) to Dean's 864,863 (38.5%). [14]

Lee previously chaired and served on the committee of the Tennessee Prayer Breakfast. [15]


Governor Bill Lee taking the oath of office.

Lee was sworn in on January 19, 2019. [2] He issued five executive orders in his first two months in office; one addressed economically distressed rural counties in Tennessee, another addressed nondiscrimination in employment, and a third imposed a 90-day "freeze" on the issuance of new regulations by executive departments. [16] Lee announced that the governor's website would include a new feature to allow citizens to give feedback on bills that had passed through the General Assembly and were awaiting his signature or veto. [17]

As governor, Lee has rejected proposals to expand TennCare, the state's Medicaid program. [18] He supports legislation introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly to ban abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, in potential conflict with the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. [19]

In February 2019 Lee announced that his budget proposal for the 2020 fiscal year would include a repeal of the 10% amusement tax Tennessee levies on gyms, fitness centers, and health clubs. Lee argued that the tax discourages Tennesseans from being physically active. If enacted, the repeal would reduce state revenues by around $10 million. [20]

Personal life

Lee lives in Fernvale with his second wife, Maria, whom he married in 2008. [21] His first wife, Carol Ann, died in 2000 in a horseback riding accident. [22] After her death, Lee took extended time off from his construction company to raise his four children. [5]

Lee attends Grace Chapel Church in Leiper's Fork. [9]

Lee previously served as a member of the board of trustees of Belmont University, chairman of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors, and board member of the Hope Clinic for Women board member and Men of Valor Prison Ministry. [5]


  1. ^ Gov. Bill Lee: Tennessee, National Governors Association.
  2. ^ a b c Joel Ebert & Natalie Allison, Bill Lee sworn in as Tennessee's 50th governor, nearly 2 years after long-shot bid, Tennessean (January 19, 2019).
  3. ^ "Bill Lee has potential to be an inspiring Tennessee governor | Opinion". Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  4. ^ "Bill Lee stepping down as CEO of Lee Co". Nashville Post. February 5, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e Tyler Jett, Who is Bill Lee? Bill Lee says he was called to run for governor, Chattanooga Times Free Press (July 6, 2018).
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Nathan Allison, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says he regrets participating in 'Old South' parties at Auburn University, Tennessee (January 21, 2019).
  8. ^ Natalie Allison, Gov. Bill Lee pictured in Auburn yearbook wearing Confederate army uniform, Tennessean (February 21, 2019).
  9. ^ a b c d e f Ebert, Joel; Garrison, Joey (April 23, 2017). "Republican Bill Lee announces run for governor of Tennessee". The Tennesseean. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  10. ^ Ebert, Joel (August 2, 2018). "Bill Lee wins Republican nomination for governor of Tennessee". Tennessean.
  11. ^ Ebert, Joel. "How Diane Black and Randy Boyd lost Tennessee's Republican primary for governor". Tennessean. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  12. ^ August 2018 Primary Election Results, Secretary of State of Tennessee.
  13. ^ Natalie Allison, Republican Bill Lee wins race for Tennessee governor, defeating Democrat Karl Dean, Tennessean (November 7, 2018).
  14. ^ November 2018 General Election Results, Secretary of State of Tennessee.
  15. ^ "Gov.-elect Bill Lee asks lawmakers for prayer, stresses his views on separation of church and state". The Tennessean. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  16. ^ Kathy Carlson, "Lee's executive orders fit trend for new administrations," Tennessee Ledger (February 22, 2019).
  17. ^ "Tennessee gov site to take input on bills awaiting signature". WREG. February 19, 2019.
  18. ^ Chris Bundgaard, TN Governor Bill Lee on Democrats' Calls to Expand TennCare (February 19, 2019).
  19. ^ Jonathan Mattise, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, top GOP lawmakers back heartbeat abortion ban, Associated Press (January 30, 2019).
  20. ^ "Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee to propose repealing 'gym tax' in 2019 budget". WATE. February 19, 2019.
  21. ^ Grigsby, Karen; Ebert, Joel. "Midterm elections: Bill Lee wife next Tennessee first lady Maria Lee". Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  22. ^ "Campaigning for Tennessee governor: What life is like on the road with Republican Bill Lee". August 4, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2018.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Haslam
Republican nominee for Governor of Tennessee
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Haslam
Governor of Tennessee
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Tennessee
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Matt Bevin
as Governor of Kentucky
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Tennessee
Succeeded by
Mike DeWine
as Governor of Ohio