Away With You: Tennessee GOP Banishes Trump Endorsee Who Doesn’t Know Basic Facts About District From Primary Race

State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus is seen during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC on June 24, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Tennessee Republican Party’s executive committee voted to kick House candidate and ex-Trump administration State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus off the primary ballot on Tuesday.

The vote was a result of a challenge that had been filed against Ortagus’ campaign from within the Tennessee GOP, which has been fighting tooth and nail to sink her bid in an unusual clash with former President Donald Trump, who had given Ortagus a full-throated endorsement.

Ortagus said in a statement after the vote on Tuesday that she was “disappointed that the party insiders at the Tennessee Republican Party do not seem to share” her “commitment to President Trump’s America First policies.”

“As I have said all along, I believe that voters in Middle Tennessee should pick their representative — not establishment party insiders,” she continued. “Our team is evaluating the options before us.”

The party’s vote came after the GOP-controlled state legislature passed a bill requiring primary candidates to have lived in Tennessee for at least three years in order to qualify.

The legislation was a direct salvo at Ortagus, a Florida native who didn’t start living in Tennessee until she moved to Nashville last year and whose address isn’t even in the district she’s running in (the 5th Congressional District). However, the Republicans lawmakers’ scheming was all for naught — the Tennessee Secretary of State said last week that the law wouldn’t apply to Ortagus because it became law after the April 7 filing deadline.

Trump endorsed Ortagus in January, before she even launched her campaign. However, the ex-president’s endorsement sparked rare backlash from his loyalists who complained that Ortagus wasn’t committed enough to the MAGA cause.

Tennessee Republicans were similarly upset, arguing that outsiders like Ortagus shouldn’t be allowed to plant their flags in the state and immediately run for office.

The former Trump official really didn’t help her case in an interview with the Tennessee Star Report in February, during which the candidate was unable to answer any questions about the district she was running in or even Tennessee itself.

“What three interstate highways are located in the 5th Congressional District?” the Tennessee Star Report asked.

“I’m a terrible driver. I don’t know that,” Ortagus replied. “I don’t drive anywhere that I go.”

The Tennessee GOP also voted on Tuesday to remove two other primary candidates running in the state’s 5th Congressional District: Baxter Lee and Robby Starbuck.

Starbuck responded with a declaration of war via this video:

(In case you were curious, it’s a pastiche of a popular Vine meme, specifically this one):

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Notable Replies

  1. Welcome back : ))

  2. Snookums looks a bit put out that the Goopers aren’t falling all over themselves to anoint her their Congress Creature. Poor baby. Maybe she can get her old job at the beauty parlour back, because she’s definitely a beaut!

  3. Kinda helps to actually live in the district yer gonna be representing. Isn’t there a rule or law about that or is it just an ethics thing that a GOPer would ignore anyway?

  4. There must be more to this story. Who paid for her move to Tennessee? What was she doing in Tennessee…did she have a job? What’s the source of her funds to buy a house there, if she bought a house there? Etc.

  5. Not required. A representative is only required to live in the state they are representing.

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