Tennessee governor’s race could be most expensive in state history

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The 2018 Tennessee governor’s race is already shaping up to be the most expensive in state history.

It comes as several candidates reported raising millions of dollars this week with the primary still more than a year away.

How much will it cost to get to the governor’s corner at the state capitol?

Fifty million dollars spent by all the eventual Republican candidates is one estimate by longtime conservative political observer Steve Gill, who is also a columnist with the Tennessee Star website.

“You have got several self-funders,” said Gill. “You have got folks whether it be Bill Lee or Randy Boyd or those thinking about getting in like Diane Black who can literally raise all they need at the anytime teller.”

That slightly tongue-in-cheek assessment still says a lot about the race for the Republican nomination for Tennessee governor.

While reporting significant fundraising, Boyd and Lee have each tossed in nearly matching amounts of their own money into their campaigns during the first reporting period of the election cycle that closed on June 30.

Former state economic development commissioner Boyd raised $2.3 million and put in $2 million of his own money.

Williamson County businessman Bill Lee reported $1.4 million raised along with matching that amount from his own pocket.

Rep. Black is the third wealthy Republican who could enter the race, but where does that leave Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell who just entered this week, and State Senator Mae Beavers who had only a few weeks of reporting since she entered the race in early June?

They have got to marshal their resources,” added Gill. “They are kind of like squirrels. They have got those nuts ready to spend at the end of the fight, and that means they have to spend a little less on the front end.”

Sen. Beavers told News 2 that her campaign raised nearly sixty thousand dollars including contributions from her senate campaign funds.

As for Democrats, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, the only announced candidate so far from the party,reported raising $1.2 million.

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