Anti-Boyd website questions pollster’s links to Lee campaign

Businessman Bill Lee speaks at his campaign headquarters opening in Franklin on Feb. 12, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A conservative website that has long targeted Randy Boyd’s gubernatorial bid is raising questions about ties between one of its favored Republican candidates, Bill Lee, and a poll that suggested he had surged to a 6-point lead over Boyd.

The Tennessee Star notes that Lee’s general consultants Blake Harris and Jordan Gehrke have links to JMC Analytics and Polling, the company that released what it billed as a “completely independent” poll in the Tennessee governor’s race this week. Harris and Gehrke are partners in Vertical Strategies and Victory Phones respectively, companies that share a Grand Rapids, Mich., address with another company called Advictory. Lee’s campaign has spent heavily on Advictory and Victory Phones — a company that has been listed as an auto-dialer for JMC polls in other states (the company did not disclose its auto-dialer for the Tennessee poll).

Boyd campaign CEO Chip Saltsman immediately dismissed the poll as “bogus” and said it looked like a “publicity stunt by the Lee campaign to try and artificially create some momentum.”

JMC founder John Couvillon told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he has no clients in Tennessee and decided to poll the GOP primary as a “completely independent project” because there were few other public polls run in the state.

11 Responses to Anti-Boyd website questions pollster’s links to Lee campaign

  • Avatar
    Rob Mitchell says:

    20 years ago Tennesseans heard politicians promise that “There will never be a state income tax.” But two years later, we had to fight to stop it.

    Today, many of those same Tennesseans are hearing politicians dismiss the possibility of a state property tax. But there it is, in state statute, a statewide property tax currently set at zero, ready to be deployed with a simple majority of the legislature.

    We can’t afford another tax increase in our state. But only one candidate for Governor has made clear that he would stand firmly against a statewide property tax. And that’s Bill Lee. In fact, he’s the only candidate who has released a comprehensive agenda for controlling the budget and shrinking the size of government, a plan he laid out in his “Ten for Tennessee.”

    As a property assessor and as a private businessman, I understand how important being fiscally focused is to a state or businesses future success. Only one candidate has demonstrated to me both by their words but more importantly, their actions, that it will not be “business as usual” under their administration. That person is Bill Lee.

    Of all the candidates, Bill is the only one to see how the state property tax would siphon vital wealth away from local communities and into the pockets of State bureaucracts.

    That is why Bill has my support and why I believe if you are concerned about your taxes and spending, he should have yours as well.

    Rob Mitchell
    Property Assessor
    Rutherford County Tennessee

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    I stopped reading after the NeoCon paper Tennessee Star was mentioned.

  • Avatar
    Phil Lassiter says:

    Black isn’t even a factor now. Would have never thought Harwell would eclipse her!!

  • Avatar
    Jason Wallflower says:

    Boyd is still ahead. Has it tightened? Yep, but Boyd is still the frontrunner. Diane is not in the picture right now.

  • Pingback: Wednesday, July 25

  • Avatar
    MarLE says:

    Congratulations on calling THEM what they are……an anti-Boyd website. Nothing more. And certainly not a “real” news outlet as they claim. Good for you!

  • Avatar
    Donna Locke says:

    I’m waiting for Schelzig to label The Tennessean a pro-amnesty outlet and to accurately label the current leanings of this Web site right here.

    • Avatar
      MarLE says:

      At least we know who wrote the article b/c Erik Schelzig has enough journalist integrity to put his name on what he writes. All publications have a leaning…but I never see any that ever hide, let alone most of the time hide, the identity of who is covering stories or writing articles by using a bi-line that says “admin”. No idea whose ideas are being offered. If most of the articles are being written by just one or two people …..who are also functioning as “editor” (the ones who decide what gets published) …..and who also are the owners then what you’ve really got there is a day-in/day-out place for 2 people to kibitz in public. But a “Newspaper”?…..not by any standard I’ve heard of. So, he’s correct; it’s just a website like Mr Schelzig said and, of late, it’s one that is clearly anti-Boyd.

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    Donna Locke says:

    When newspapers can’t or don’t want to put their own names on stories, the bylines say “Staff Reports,” so what’s the diff?

    Names should be in the bylines, but The Tennessee Star fills a fact void.

    We have to dig for facts because of the biases and sins of omission in the traditional news outlets.

    • Avatar
      MarLE says:

      Omission is one of the biggest sins…you are absolutely right about that. In the last Mayors race in Nashville the Tennessean, a newspaper both you and I are skeptical about, reached out to ALL of the candidates on multiple issues. They made contact and conducted phone interviews throughout the campaign with every single one of them. The Star, on the other hand, did not do that. Regardless of what the opinion or bias of the Tennessean might have been they at least followed the basic precepts of journalistic integrity. The Star did not. And this is just one small example. What real news outlet covering nearly daily for 6 solid weeks fails to contact all of the candidates in the race. Lord, even the Nashville Scene contacted and interviewed the 2 conservatives in the race, Swain and Bristol. And they are supposed to be a joke of a liberal rag.

  • Avatar
    Rob Mitchell says:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2018

    NASHVILLE – The GOP gubernatorial primary has become a two-way race between candidates Beth Harwell and Bill Lee, according to the latest polling from the Tennessee Employees Action Movement and Spry strategies.

    “Our internal polling has tracked significant increases in support over the last 14-days for both Beth Harwell and Bill Lee,” TSEA Executive Director Randy Stamps said. “The other two candidates, according to our numbers, are either losing support or remain unchanged.”

    The TEAM-PAC/Spry poll found 22.35% supported Beth Harwell, 29.09% supported Bill Lee, 18.94% supported Diane Black, 14.44% supported Randy Boyd, and 15.18% were undecided.

    The TEAM-PAC/Spry poll surveyed statewide registered GOP voters who voted in the 2016 Tennessee Republican Presidential Primary and voted in at least 3 out of the last four Republican primaries.

    Respondents were surveyed through a hybird method of 600 automated, 181 live cell, and 100 google online panel. The 881 total respondents reflect those who completed the entire poll. The margin of error for the poll is +/-4%.

    “The TEAM-PAC/Spry Poll results are encouraging for Beth Harwell and show a clear trend indicating the GOP Primary has become a two-way race,” Randy Stamps said. “Our state employee ground game has been working overtime, and I feel state employees and their families are a big part of this trend.”

    TEAM-PAC in May endorsed Beth Harwell in the GOP Primary.


    About TEAM-PAC

    TEAM-PAC is the political action committee of the Tennessee State Employees Association and is solely funded by state employees. Founded in 1974, TSEA represents the rights and interests of 40,000 state employees in Tennessee and has a rich history of improving the lives of its state employee members. For further information, visit TSEA’s website at

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