MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - State elected officials are wading deeper into presidential politics, with Tennessee Democrats hitting Republican Governor Bill Lee Wednesday for not recognizing Joe Biden as president-elect.
Tennessee Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart said Wednesday Lee should explain to Tennessee voters why he’s not recognizing Biden as the president-elect.
“Every elected official in this country is responsible for maintaining the effectiveness and legitimacy of our democratic system,” said Stewart. “It is not acceptable for public officials, Democrat or Republican, to not accept the results of elections.”
Earlier this week the governor said the election process hadn’t fully played out, but he vowed to work with the feds regardless of who’s in the White House.
“I think it’s not clear yet what the outcome is. And it won’t be clear until the process is seen to the end. I think the country should see that process to the end,” said Lee. “I’m going to be focused on what’s very best for Tennessee, and that includes working with a federal administration regardless of who that is.”
Republicans in the Tennessee Senate released a letter on Tuesday saying no winner should be declared until court appeals have been exhausted. The lawmakers said they support President Donald Trump contesting the 2020 election results.
“I think we owe it to the process to say we’re not in any hurry. Let’s check and make sure the votes are counted. Let’s make sure they’re recounted. Let’s hear any legal challenges the Trump campaign might have, and at the end of that process everybody will feel like the election was done correctly,” said Scott Golden, Tennessee GOP Chairman.
The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in key swing states amid unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
WMC Action News 5 Political Analyst Michael Nelson said the outcome of the race will not change.
“Even if the Trump campaign gets all the recounts it wants, and even if there was all the fraud they say there was, it still doesn’t add up to enough votes to deny Joe Biden a victory in this election,” said Nelson.
Golden said efforts are already underway to send volunteers from Tennessee to Georgia to campaign for two Republicans in a pair of U.S. Senate runoffs in January that will determine the balance of power in the Senate.
If Democrats win both seats, they will control the chamber.
Nelson said a concession by Trump would present the best way for Republicans to secure those two seats, though he acknowledged a concession is unlikely.
“I think the best strategy for Republicans in Georgia would be for Trump to concede that Biden is going to be president, Democrats are going to control the house, and therefore, there may be a reason to choose Republicans to keep Democrats from having total power in Washington,” said Nelson.