Conservative Outsider Surges to Victory in Major Upset

Underdog conservative outsider Bill Lee upset a crowded field of well-funded, better-known candidates to win Tennessee’s Republican gubernatorial primary Thursday, sending shockwaves through a state where he was down double-digits in polls as recently as last month.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who had the endorsement of Vice President Mike Pence, was the clear favorite in the race. Former state economic development chief Randy Boyd, who had the backing of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, was widely considered Black’s chief rival.

But President Trump, who has a 56 percent approval rating in Tennessee, stopped short of endorsing any candidate in the race, including Black — despite keeping her by his side and praising her at several events.

Lee, a businessman whose poll numbers surged dramatically in the last week of the campaign, took advantage of infighting among his rivals, as he traveled the state and touted his Christian values while Boyd and Black sparred.