Politics Doctor Ten Dem Gov wins race after criticizing relaxed...

Doctor Ten Dem Gov wins race after criticizing relaxed COVID rules


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Nashville, Tenn. (AP) – Nashville physician Jason Martin has criticized Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s hands-off approach to the Covid-19 pandemic.Won the Democratic nomination for governor Friday and will face Lee in Nov.

Martin, a first-time political candidate, narrowly defeated Memphis attorney and City Councilman JB Smiley Jr., with attorney Cornita Atwater finishing third. Both Smiley and Atwater would have been the state’s first black gubernatorial nominee if they had won.

“We hear your message loud and clear. You’re upset that Bill Lee failed you,” Martin said late Thursday, declaring victory before the race as he held a narrow lead in the vote count.

“He stood by when 27,000 of our fellow Tennesseans died in the last two years,” Martin added, referring to the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state.

Lee did not run in his primary election Thursday He is seeking a second four-year term in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 2006. He defeated his Democratic opponent in 2018.


Martin jumped into the governor’s race last year after publicly criticizing Lee’s handling of the virus outbreak. The Republican governor has refused to issue a statewide mask mandate and has signed several laws banning most vaccine mandates. The epidemic swept across the United States, killing more than 1 million people in two years.


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  • However, even as the virus epidemic continues to spread across the state, the outbreak is largely not a public priority — especially during a gubernatorial campaign. Martin now expects a turbulent national political landscape And some of Lee’s recent controversies could help open a path for a Democrat to win a statewide seat.

    Some of that is ongoing fallout from the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide. Lee has supported some of the strictest abortion bans in the US

    Recently, Lee declined to answer questions about whether he supported tweaking the state’s so-called trigger law to expand its exemptions, and sidestepped a direct question about whether he supported exempting raped and pregnant children.

    Meanwhile, Lee has recently drawn widespread criticism from both sides after refusing to deny his disparaging comments A charter school president spoke about public school teachers during a reception attended by Lee. The President said the teachers were “trained in dumb areas of dumb colleges”.

    Lee argued that Lee’s comments were not aimed at Tennessee teachers, but instead focused on “activism from the left” in schools across the country.

    Martin was decidedly impressive, and Smiley, the next highest fundraiser. Lee, however, will take a big campaign cash edge in the November midterm elections.

    “I truly believed when I decided to run that we could make life better for every Tennessean by investing in what we need,” Lee said when asked about running unopposed in Thursday’s primary. “I hope Tennesseans see that that’s the heart behind what we’re doing.”


    Martin’s campaign declared victory Thursday night, although votes are still being counted in Smiley’s hometown of Memphis. Smiley warns Martin and tells the doctor to wait for the results.

    As of Friday, Smiley said he was “disappointed in the results” but believed his campaign “forever changed the narrative on the type of candidate who can win this state.”

    Although he stopped short of expressly endorsing Martin, both agreed that defeating Lee in the general election was imperative.

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