Today, the company--which has offices in Huntsville, Ala.; Cookeville, Tenn.; and Bowling Green, Ky., in addition to its main office in Franklin--employs 1,150 people, mostly plumbers, pipe-fitters and welders, and generates about $225 million in annual revenue. "When I came to that company, I had a vision for it and we've accomplished that vision," Lee said. "Those experiences in life have really caused me to have a vision for Tennessee, so I've decided to pursue this endeavor."
[One analyst] called Lee a top-tier Republican candidate who is not a politician in a traditional sense. "He can and will credibly argue that he is running for office to make a difference," Geer said. "Lee has all the ingredients to be a very successful candidate."
In a race most believe will be Tennessee's most expensive political primary ever, Lee is among multiple candidates who are expected to be in a position to self-finance a portion of their campaigns.
He's looking to stake out the sort of centrist lane that helped catapult Democrats' most recent statewide officeholder, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, who also was an ex-mayor of Nashville. For now, Dean is avoiding partisan attacks. In fact, Dean called Haslam, a Republican, a "very good governor" and he declined to offer a single criticism of the sitting governor when asked.
"I think I'm a moderate," Dean said, claiming support of Democrats and Republicans as mayor, which was a nonpartisan office. "My sense is good things happen when you're in the middle of the road. That's where you can find agreement and move things forward.
The issue at the center of both the Tea Party Patriots' endorsement and Carr's new ad is Alexander's alleged support for "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, a charge Carr has made central to his campaign.
The Tea Party Patriots endorsement praised Carr as a "genuine leader" in the fight against illegal immigration, criticizing Alexander for being one of the 14 Republicans to vote for the reform bill that passed the Senate last year.
"Joe wants to preserve American sovereignty; Lamar Alexander's policies are producing a human wave of criminality and disease on the Rio Grande," the group's chairwoman said. Carr's radio ad also hits Alexander on his support for the immigration measure, charging that the senator "voted with Democrats to pass a bill creating a border crisis by giving amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens."
"Lamar's website doesn't tell you a lot of things," Carr says in the radio ad. Carr led the charge for stricter immigration laws in the Tennessee Legislature and believes the focus on immigration reform could pay off for him in the Aug. 7 primary election.
Fifty years later, Merritt Potter's words are still our state's official slogan, and they still are true: "Tennessee--America at Its Best." Today in Tennessee we are more than a slogan. We think we are a model to the nation in so many ways.
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