Tennessee GOP Boots Ex-Trump Official Off Primary Ballot

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The Tennessee Republican Party removed former State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus from a House of Representatives primary ballot in a Tuesday night vote.

Tennessee GOP’s executive committee ultimately ruled that Ortagus’ candidacy violated the party’s bylaws. The party also removed fellow Fifth District candidates Robby Starbuck and Baxter Lee from the ballot, according to the Tennessee Lookout. (RELATED: Tennessee Legislature Takes Aim At Former Trump Official’s House Run. Are Their Actions Legal?)

Elected officials previously targeted Ortagus with a residency requirement bill, although it ultimately passed too late to remove her from the ballot.

“I’m a bonafide Republican by their standards, and frankly, by any metric. I’m further disappointed that the party insiders at the Tennessee Republican Party do not seem to share my commitment to President Trump’s America First policies,” Ortagus said in a statement, the outlet reported. “Our team is evaluating the options before us.”

The Tennessee Republican Party takes an active role in ensuring that candidates are qualified under its rules. Party bylaws require that all Republican candidates vote in three out of the last four “most recent Statewide Republican primary elections,” and are “actively involved in the Tennessee Republican Party, his County Republican Party, or any recognized auxiliary organization of either.” It removed eight candidates from a 2018 Senate race that was ultimately won by Marsha Blackburn, the Associated Press reported.

Ortagus has also called out anti-Semitism after state Sen. Frank Niceley, who spearheaded the residency requirement bill, suggested that former President Donald Trump endorsed Ortagus because she is Jewish. Supporters of Ortagus who filed a lawsuit against the bill saw it as protecting Niceley’s preferred candidate, former state House Speaker Beth Harwell.

“I don’t think Trump cares one way or the other,” Niceley said, according to NBC News. “I think Jared Kushner — he’s Jewish, she’s Jewish — I think Jared will be upset. Ivanka will be upset. I don’t think Trump cares.”

“Anti-Semitism is the oldest and one of the most vile forms of hatred on this earth, and Senator Niceley should be ashamed of his repeated anti-Semitic rhetoric,” Ortagus said in a statement. “I am incredibly proud to call myself a part of the Jewish people, and I have always called out anti-Semitism when I see it in all of its forms. I will condemn anyone who traffics in this hate-mongering. Senator Niceley’s repulsive words could not be more clear in disparaging the Jewish people.”