One of Donald Trump’s more controversial endorsements just hit a really big, perhaps campaign-ending roadblock.
Morgan Ortagus, who served as the Spokesperson for the Department of State for nearly half of Trump’s tenure, has been removed from the ballot in Tennessee. That comes after she was found ineligible due to residency issues. Ortagus only moved to Nashville last year, a length of time that apparently does not meet the requirements to run for office by the state GOP’s bylaws.
This comes from NBC News.
“I am deeply disappointed in the SEC’s decision,” Ortagus said in a statement, referring to the party’s State Executive Committee. “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.
“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.”
It’s a little rich for Ortagus to talk about “establishment party insiders” choosing representatives when Trump is the current establishment of the party at this point. He is the insider giving endorsements and bashing others. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but I am saying that Ortagus is anything but an “outsider” unless we are talking about her not really being from Tennessee. Heck, she worked for Mike Pompeo and has been in Washington a long time.
Further, she’s not an outsider in her background or policy views either. The reason Trump’s endorsement of Ortagus rubbed many in his base the wrong way is that she’s your typical neoconservative, establishment figure constantly jockeying for a government paycheck. She blasted Trump as “disgusting” in past comments. Ortagus even attempted to get a job in Joe Biden’s administration, pledging to “faithfully serve” the current president.
The question of why Trump endorsed her in the first place has always been a bit of a mystery, especially when there are other candidates in the race that have been far more supportive of the former president’s movement.
As to the specifics of her disqualification, here is where she failed to meet the standards.
The state GOP’s executive committee has the authority to disqualify candidates from the primary ballot for failing to adhere to the party’s bylaws, which require a candidate to have voted in three of the last four GOP primaries, as well as to actively participate in the state or local Republican parties. The committee voted to remove Ortagus and fellow candidates Robby Starbuck and Baxter Lee, whose candidacies were also challenged, state GOP Chairman Scott Golden said.
Tennessee is a heavily Republican and Trump-supporting state, including with the state’s GOP organization. It just doesn’t make sense that they removed Ortagus as some kind of “establishment” favor. Further, Ortagus is far preferable to the “establishment” than the other alternatives in the primary. In short, her complaints don’t add up. Rather, it appears Ortagus was legitimately ineligible and the Republicans in charge of the ballot are enforcing the rules.
Someone got out over their skis here. We’ll see if Ortagus attempts to go to court to appeal this decision somehow. I doubt much can be done as parties are private entities that get to make their own rules.
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