The Tennessee Republican Party voted last week to remove three candidates from the primary ballot for an upcoming House race. State GOP Chair Scott Golden confirmed that the party took Baxter Lee, Robby Starbuck, and Trump-endorsed Morgan Ortagus off of the list of candidates for the state 5th congressional district.
State party bylaws require that candidates must have voted in three of the last four Republican statewide primaries in their county of residence to be eligible. They must also be “actively involved in the state or county Republican party where they reside.
Ortagus worked previously as a spokesperson for the State Department during the Trump administration. She currently appears regularly as a contributor on Fox News Channel.
Starbuck is a conservatvie filmmaker who was endorsed by several high-profile Republicans, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC).
Tennessee’s 5th district has been a longtime safe seat for Democrats. However, redistricting this year has transformed it into a Republican-leaning district. The seat will be open in this year’s elections as a result of the retirement of Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN).
The Ortagus campaign said that it is evaluating its options following the party vote. Ortegus said that she is “deeply disappointed” by the decision to strike her from the ballot. She added that she is a “bonafide Republican” by the party’s standards or by any other metric.
Ortagus also said she is further disappointed that the insiders at the Tennessee Republican Party do not share her “commitment to President Trump’s America First policies.” She went on to say that voters in Middle Tennessee should pick their representative, not establishment insiders.
Her campaign said that she met all of the party requirements to appear on the primary ballot, including being a previous primary voter as required. It said she is also an active member of the Nashville Republican Women and the Republican Women of Williamson County.