Williamson County businessman eyes run for governor in 2018

Williamson County businessman Bill Lee says he is considering a Republican run for governor of Tennessee in 2018 and is ready to self-finance if he does enter the race, according to The Tennessean.

Lee in February stepped down as CEO of the the Lee Company, a Franklin-based home service and facilities solutions company founded by his grandfather.

“I’m definitely exploring the possibility of it,” the 56-year-old Lee said. “That’s as far as I’ve gotten.”

Lee, a Franklin native and Republican donor who resides with his family on a farm in Williamson County, said he would likely have a decision by early next year, which will be after the upcoming presidential election.

“I’m not a politician, and I haven’t been,” he said. “I’ve lived my life completely in the private sector. And so, honestly, a part of what I’m doing is learning about the Republican Party in Tennessee by traveling around and talking to community leaders and grassroots folks, and really learning where I do fit in the Republican Party.

“My family has lived in Tennessee for seven generations. I love this state and the people here, so I’m trying to find out just what the people think about what’s most needed.”

…Others considered possible Republican candidates for governor include U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn.; U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd; state Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville; former ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty; House Speaker Beth Harwell; and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville.

…Lee Company, founded in 1944, has annual revenue of $160 million, according to the company’s website.

Asked about his ability to self-finance part of his campaign, Lee said, “If I decided to do this — and that’s a big if — I would certainly be willing to invest in my campaign, just like I would be asking other people to invest in it. Ultimately, I can’t do this on my own.”