The stiletto versus the meat ax in the Tennessee gov’s race

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee won the nomination by “using a stiletto and not a meat ax,” Vanderbilt professor John Geer told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “And the Republican primary voters like a stiletto much more than a meat ax.”

Fred Davis, who was Lee’s media consultant, said the campaign used the fact that the candidate was little-known to its advantage.

“They’re not going to know him early,” Davis told the paper. “We couldn’t compete. But we knew we had the best candidate, the best person, the best heart. We knew that he would grow well on people. There’s only one day you win or lose. That was [Thursday]. It wasn’t Jan. 1. It wasn’t March 15.”

Davis was behind Bill Haslam’s ads in 2010, and in 2006 he produced ads for Bob Corker (and Jim Bryson). Davis was not Lee’s first choice, according to the Times Free Press, and he had earlier been rejected by the Boyd campaign. That was a mistake, Geer said.

“Boyd would have had a much better campaign had he had Fred Davis,” Geer said.

Former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, who lost his bid for governor in the 2010 Republican primary to Bill Haslam, poured on criticism of Boyd campaign CEO Chip Saltsman.

“He’s a dirty actor,” Zach Wamp said. “And frankly, it was a $25 million mistake Randy Boyd made of hiring a dirty actor. That’s the bottom line. Frankly, a guy who rose to prominence of running dirty, unethical campaigns, and it caught up with him. Finally.”



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