Look Back: November elections change Tennessee’s political landscape

Special Reports

The statewide elections this year changed the political landscape in Tennessee with a new governor, a new U.S Senator and plans for new oversight of the Metro Nashville Police Department.   

Republican businessman Bill Lee won the governor’s race in his first race for public office

Lee campaigned on a simple message that he says will now be a foundation for his administration. 

“People want a good job, a good school for their kids; they want a safe neighborhood.” That’s something Lee said at every stop he made in his 18-month campaign for the governor’s office.   

PHOTOS: Bill Lee elected Tennessee’s next governor 

The political newcomer easily defeated three much-better-known candidates in the August Republican gubernatorial primary. 

Congressional member Diane Black and former state economic development commissioner Randy Boyd spent a lot of money, but they and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, could not stop a mid-summer surge by Lee. 

His town halls across the state, and never joining the negative ad wars between Boyd and Black, are credited with the surprisingly easy primary win.

The state’s Republican majority came together behind Lee in another surprisingly easy win a few months later. 

This time it was over Democrat and former Nashville mayor Karl Dean in the general election.

Lee’s race was called within a few minutes after polls closed November 6. 

A few hours later, it was clear that Middle Tennessee Republican congressional member Marsha Blackburn would be victorious in her U.S. Senate bid. 

“I think you sent a really good message,” Blackburn said on election night. “Tennesseans want a conservative U.S. Senator. 

MORE: President Trump endorses Marsha Blackburn for U.S. Senate

Polls early in the nearly yearlong race showed Blackburn behind popular former Democrat governor Phil Bredesen, but three trips to Tennessee by President Donald Trump to support Blackburn helped turned the tide into nearly a 10-point victory.  

In Nashville, a petition drive led to a vote that will affect the city’s police department. 

Voters approved a Community Oversight Board to look into allegations of police misconduct.  Details about how it would work at still being addressed as we head into the New Year.  

RELATED: Mayor Briley announces his nominations for Community Oversight Board

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