The Tennesse GOP removed Trump-endorsed candidate Morgan Ortagus from the ballot of the 5th District Primary. Ortagus, who served as Trump’s spokesperson for the State Department, was booted from the ballot by the party’s State Executive Committee for failing to meet the definition of a “bona fide” Republican under the party’s bylaws.
The Washington Examiner reports:
The Tennessee Republican Party requires that candidates be “actively involved” in the state or local GOP and have voted in three of the last four Republican primaries, although members can vouch to party leaders that a candidate failing to meet these requirements deserves to remain on the ballot.
Ortagus, who earned the endorsement of Trump before entering the race in February, framed the decision to bar her as a move by “party insiders” to undermine her “America First” candidacy.
“I’m a bonafide Republican by their standards, and frankly, by any metric,” Ortagus said in a statement to the Tennessean. “As I have said all along, I believe that voters in Middle Tennessee should pick their representative — not establishment party insiders. Our team is evaluating the options before us.”
Ortagus has rankled party leaders in the state who object to her running in the 5th District despite having only moved to Tennessee last year. Her entry into the race gave rise to tensions between the state GOP and Trump, whose influence over the Republican Party is being tested in primaries across the country. The former president has endorsed more than 100 GOP candidates on the ballot.
Tennessee state Sen. Frank Niceley led legislation that requires primary candidates to have lived in Tennessee for at least three years. The bill became law, except it took effect after the election’s April 7 filing deadline, meaning Ortagus would have been able to compete in the primary had she not been kicked out by the Tennessee Republican Party.
The decision to remove Ortagus happened amid rumors that Trump no longer cared whether she appeared on the ballot. However, a spokesman for Trump denied the rumor.
“That is a dirty lie, which should not surprise anyone, given there are RINOs in Tennessee trying to quietly pull strings and illegally remove President Trump’s endorsed candidate, Morgan Ortagus, from the ballot,” Taylor Budowich said, using the acronym for “Republicans in name only.”