Tennessee’s political leadership is in the final stages of reshaping through the largest shakeup in modern history. While still Republican, the state’s new leaders are considerably more conservative than previous iterations.
Gov.-elect Bill Lee, U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn and state House Speaker-elect Glen Casada, all from Williamson County, could take the state into mostly uncharted territory. Meanwhile, the State Senate may find itself in the potentially uncomfortable role of moderator.
Supported by conservative groups and President Trump, while privately repudiated by many within more moderate circles, Blackburn stunned politicos with her double-digit defeat of former Democrat Gov. Phil Bredesen, who was relying on moderate Republicans and independents to carry him to Washington.
Most believed the race would be within a few points, but Blackburn received a conservative mandate from Tennessee voters.
Blackburn poised to become a leader
Not only is Blackburn the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee, she's also the most conservative statewide office holder the state has elected in modern times.
Furthermore, with Sen. Lamar Alexander’s announcement that he’ll retire at the end of his term, Blackburn will become the senior senator from Tennessee.
This means she’ll set the tone on the federal level, regardless of who emerges as the victor in the 2020 Republican Primary.
Lee, an outsider with tact and grace, may lean on Senate
Lee’s administration will be interesting to watch.
He was elected in a stunning victory as a conservative outsider and businessman in the image of President Trump, but with more tact and grace.
On all accounts, Lee doesn’t just talk the talk, he also walks it.
Lee is expected by many to appease conservatives to a large degree but may find it difficult to allow some of the more controversial policies to become law once finally tested by media and liberal opposition.
In these instances, he may end up leaning heavily on the Senate to provide cover.