The Center Square [By Vivian Jones]-
Tennessee Republicans from Gov. Bill Lee to the state’s congressional delegation to the Senate GOP caucus largely haven’t conceded a winner in the 2020 presidential election.
The Associated Press and multiple news outlets called the election Saturday for presumptive president-elect Joe Biden after projecting a win for the former vice president in Pennsylvania. Biden addressed the nation Saturday night, claiming victory.
Lawsuits over allegations of voter fraud are ongoing in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. President Donald Trump hasn’t conceded, and many of his supporters are saying that the election isn’t over, including many Tennessee Republicans.
“This country has a process for elections, especially very closely contested elections, and we need to let that process play out,” Lee told reporters during a news conference Tuesday. “We have one president at a time. The president has every right to pursue legal challenges. We have states that are in the process of recounts. The election is not fully determined until it’s fully played out, and I think we should allow that process to fully play out.”
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery will join an amicus brief by Oklahoma’s attorney general that challenges the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision of to extend the deadline to receive mail-in ballots. The brief will argue that under the U.S. Constitution, state legislatures, not state supreme courts, must choose when state election officials may stop receiving absentee votes and start counting ballots. WPLN-FM first reported Slatery’s intent to join the legal challenge.
Regarding the state’s involvement in this legal fight, Lee said Tuesday it’s important elections be held consistently across all states.
“I think it’s appropriate to to work to make sure that this nation doesn’t have the complications associated with this past election,” Lee said.
In response to news of the amicus brief, Senate Democratic Caucus Chairperson Raumesh Akbari called the move “a waste of state tax dollars.”
Meanwhile, Republicans in Tennessee’s congressional delegation have been more outspoken in support of the president.
“Our primary concern in this election has been protecting the sanctity of the ballot box,” Congressman Chuck Fleischman said in a statement. “The states that are still counting votes must increase transparency to ensure the American people have complete faith in our electoral process. I continue to stand with President Trump during this process, and encourage my fellow Republicans to do the same.”
Senator-elect Bill Hagerty and Sen. Marsha Blackburn have shared on social media they donated to Trump’s legal fund.
Republican Congressmen Mark Green, Scott DesJarlais and John Rose joined 36 other GOP congressmen in asking U.S. Attorney General William Barr to mobilize the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure only legal votes are counted. Barr has since authorized federal prosecutors to “pursue substantial allegations” of voter irregularities.
“There’s nothing wrong with waiting for legal challenges to be adjudicated before the winner of the election is officially declared,” Green said in a tweet Monday. “Confidence in our electoral system is more important than a rush to judgement.”
“In 2000, we waited more than a month to name a winner when the race was close in one state. Now, we have multiple states that need more time to count and verify the votes. This is too important to get it wrong,” Rose said.
Tennessee’s state Senate GOP caucus released a letter to Tennessee voters signed by 24 of its 27 members pledging to stand “absolutely and unequivocally” with Trump as he contests the election results.
“The election process is far from over,” caucus members wrote. “There have been reports of irregularities in many critical states. … Until these irregularities have been thoroughly investigated and court appeals have been exhausted, no winner should be declared.”
While not conceding a Biden victory, retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander emphasized the importance of respecting the results of the election in a statement Sunday.
“After counting every valid vote and allowing courts to resolve disputes, it is important to respect and promptly accept the result,” Alexander said in a statement on Twitter. “The orderly transfer or reaffirming of immense power after a presidential election is the most enduring symbol of our democracy.”
So far, former GOP U.S. Sen. Bob Corker is the only high-profile Tennessee Republican to congratulate Biden for a presidential victory.
“I congratulate President-elect Biden and wish him well as he organizes to lead our country,” Corker tweeted Tuesday. “After 2016 and 2020, surely our country can improve our election system where results are beyond question — and beyond demagoguery from either side of the aisle.”
Trump won Tennessee with 60.7% of the vote to Biden’s 37.4%.