Karl Dean (D)
Karl Dean (D)
Bill Lee (R)
Bill Lee (R)

Created by the Campus Election Engagement Project, a nonpartisan effort to help college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders engage their schools in the election. Key sites consulted included,,,, and public candidate statements. For guides to local races, see from the League of Women Voters and For more detailed information visit their pages.

Visit and to volunteer. Other gubernatorial candidates include Ken Krawchuk (L) & Paul Glover (G). Due to limited space, we can’t include candidates polling at less than 15%, but encourage you to check out their websites. To download a printable pdf version of this guide, click here.

Abortion: Mostly ban or mostly legal? 

Karl Dean – Legal. “Between her and her doctor and her family and her faith. Politicians should not insert themselves.”

Bill Lee – Ban, even for rape and incest. “Any restriction that would limit abortions.” Supports “Heartbeat Bill” banning at around six weeks.

Climate Change: Consider climate change a serious crisis?

Karl Dean – Yes. Signed US Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, pledging to work toward reducing greenhouse gases.

Bill Lee – Unknown.


Climate Change: Limit or tax production of greenhouse gases? Support US participation in Paris Climate Accord despite President Trump’s withdrawal? Support participation in interstate initiatives to limit levels of greenhouse gases?

Karl Dean – Yes. Supported national emission trading system through Climate Protection Agreement. Worked to lower Nashville’s greenhouse gases as Mayor. “We can be pro- business and pro-environment…..[will] work with businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Bill Lee – Unknown.


Contraception: Allow employers to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees if disagree with it morally?

Karl Dean – Unknown.

Bill Lee – Yes. “Our constitution protects an absolute, fundamental right to live your life — at home & in the workplace — according to your values & your faith.”


Courts: Do you support President Trump’s Supreme Court choice of Brett Kavanaugh?

Karl Dean – Unknown.

Bill Lee – Yes. “A strong defender of the Constitution…he deserves swift confirmation. “


Economy: Support Trump’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese steel & other products?

Karl Dean – No.

Bill Lee – No.


Education: Increase funding for K-12 education?

Karl Dean – Yes. Wants to make public education a top priority as governor.

Bill Lee – No. Wants to better use existing dollars. Will appoint an inspector general to “seek out waste & abuse in the system.”


Education: Support expansion of charter schools or provide vouchers or tax breaks to parents to send their children to private schools with public money?

Karl Dean – Opposes vouchers & for-profit charter schools. Believes nonprofit charter schools have a role to play in large urban districts, though “they’re not a silver bullet.”

Bill Lee – Yes. Supports charter schools. Vouchers are an opportunity to provide another choice. We should certainly pilot voucher programs to see what positive impact they could have.”


Elections: Support nonpartisan redistricting to address charges of partisan gerrymandering?

Karl Dean – Yes.

Bill Lee – Unknown.


Gay Marriage: Support gay marriage?

Karl Dean – Yes.

Bill Lee – No. “Marriage is between a man & a woman.”


Gun Control: Support more restrictive gun control legislation? Restrict semi-automatic weapons?

Karl Dean – Supports 2nd Amendment, but wants to see strong background checks, bans on bump stocks, & continued support for the permit process.

Bill Lee – No. Law abiding citizens should not be punished for the actions of criminals… Adding a new law won’t solve the problem… As governor, I’ll oppose any attempt to ban an entire (class) of weapons.”


Healthcare: Support or Repeal ACA, aka Obamacare? Accept ACA’s Medicaid expansion to subsidize low-income participants?

Karl Dean – Support ACA. Expand Medicaid. ”My biggest health care priority would be making sure all Tennesseans have access to quality and affordable health care.”

Bill Lee – Repeal ACA & oppose Medicaid expansion. “Obamacare will not expand in Tennessee under my watch.”


Healthcare: Let Planned Parenthood receive public funds for non-abortion healthcare?

Karl Dean – Unclear. Supportive of expanding women’s health services.

Bill Lee – No. Make sure they don’t get another dime of state money.


Immigration: Support DACA, allowing “Dreamers” who arrived illegally as children, then grew up in the US, to achieve legal status if meet certain conditions?

Karl Dean – Yes. Congress should figure out a solution to retain DACA. Favors in-state tuition for DACA recipients: “They grew up here and went to school and church here. They are Tennesseans.”

Bill Lee – No. “Setting up additional benefits for illegal immigrants is the wrong strategy.” Opposes in-state tuition for DACA recipients.


Immigration: Support path to citizenship for America’s 11 million illegal immigrants?

Karl Dean – Yes. Supports earned path to citizenship.

Bill Lee – No.


Marijuana: Do you support legalizing or decriminalizing medical or recreational marijuana?

Karl Dean – Legalize medical use. No legalization of recreational marijuana, but possibly decriminalize small amounts.

Bill Lee – Opposes legalizing recreational marijuana; says further exploration of medical use is needed.


President Trump: Response to President Trump’s actions & policies?

Karl Dean – ”I’m not running against or for President Trump. I’m running to … manage the state in a way that’s best for the people of Tennessee.”

Bill Lee – I support many of the things that President Trump has accomplished in his days. I’m grateful for tax reform, for regulation rollback, for appointment of justices, for border security.”


Renewable Energy: Support government subsidies for renewable energy?

Karl Dean – Yes. “We need to focus more on incentivizing the use of solar.”

Bill Lee – Unknown.


Taxes: Position on Tennessee taxes?

Karl Dean – Would allow counties to increase gas tax to fund local transportation infrastructure.

Bill Lee – Recruiting new businesses while “growing Tennessee businesses of all sizes… requires reducing the tax & regulatory burden for everyone.”


Voting Rights: Support stricter voting rules such as voter ID requirements or reduced registration times, even if they prevent some people from voting?

Karl Dean – No. Will look at options to make voting more accessible & increase participation.

Bill Lee – Unknown.