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Bill Lee, chairman, Lee Co., a $215 million mechanical contractors based in Nashville, won the Republican primary for Tennessee governor.
Lee, a political newcomer and considered the underdog in the race, beat U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who had the endorsement of Vice President Mike Pence, who was the clear favorite in the race. Former state economic development chief Randy Boyd, who had the backing of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, was widely considered Black's chief rival.
After graduation from Auburn University with a degree in mechanical engineering, Lee joined the company that his grandfather started in 1944. He held several roles at Lee Company before becoming president of the company in 1992 and is currently chairman.
Lee Co. currently employs 1,200 people. The company has won numerous awards for work culture and business accomplishments, and Lee was named a “Most Admired CEO” in 2015 by the Nashville Business Journal. In 2017, Lee Company was chosen by the Tennessean as the best large company to work for, as chosen by employees.
In the general election, Lee will face Democrat Karl Dean, who served four terms as mayor of Nashville.