MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Republican Bill Lee and Democrat Karl Dean, both candidates for Tennessee governor, will debate for the first time on Tuesday.
They'll go head to head at the University of Memphis in a showdown moderated by WMC5’s Joe Birch and Kontji Anthony, as well as David Waters of The Commercial Appeal.
Tickets are now gone for the gubernatorial debate, scheduled for 6 p.m. at Rose Theater on UofM’s campus. Monday, organizers made preparations to set up the venue for broadcast.
“They are two sort of very friendly candidates neither of whom I think naturally is going to go on the attack,” said WMC5 political analyst Michael Nelson.
Lee, a middle Tennessee businessman, sailed to victory in August's primary amid a crowded field of Tennessee Republicans. He has never held elected political office.
Dean, a former Nashville mayor, easily beat challenger and West Tennessean state representative Craig Fitzhugh to get the Democratic nod.
Recent polls have shown Lee with anywhere from a 9-point to 20-point lead over Dean.
Nelson said both candidates Tuesday will try to appeal to Memphis.
“In his visits to Memphis, Bill Lee spent considerable time at Moore Tech as a volunteer in various enterprises and in Franklin his home city,” Nelson said. “He’s shown a real interest in helping kids make the transition from poverty into a good-paying job.”
Nelson also spoke about Dean’s advantages.
“Dean’s advantage is experience of leading a city and knowledge of the issues therefore,” Nelson said. “And maybe try to convince Memphians that his work in Nashville shows that he’s sensitive to urban problems.”
Tuesday’s debate will be the first of three ahead of November’s election.
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