Dr. Jason Martin & Gov. Bill Lee COMBO

Democrat Dr. Jason Martin (left) will face incumbent Republican Governor Bill Lee.

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Nashville doctor critical of Republican Gov. Bill Lee's hands-off approach to the COVID-19 pandemic has won the Democratic nomination for governor.

Jason Martin defeated Memphis attorney and City Councilman JB Smiley Jr. by a thin margin, with advocate Carnita Atwater finishing a distant third.

Both Smiley and Atwater would have been the state’s first Black gubernatorial nominee if they had won.

Lee was unopposed Thursday as he looks to secure a second term in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 2006.

He trounced his Democratic opponent in 2018.

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