Along with Ortagus, who earned Trump’s endorsement in the race earlier this year, congressional candidates Robby Starbuck and Baxter Lee were also removed from the ballot by the party’s executive committee, according to a source briefed on the matter.
The decision came just over a week after state GOP officials agreed to review challenges to the three candidates that raised questions about their Republican bonafides, including whether they had voted in three of the last four Republican primaries, as required by the state party’s bylaws.
Ortagus blasted the move in a statement late Tuesday, claiming that she is “a bonafide Republican by their standards, en eerlik gesê, by any metric.” The former State Department spokeswoman moved to Tennessee from Washington, DC, in 2021 and has been accused of carpetbagging by critics, including several state lawmakers who backed a new three-year residency requirement for Tennessee primary candidates that became law last week.
In 'n verklaring wat aan CNN verskaf is, Ortagus said she was “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.”
Longtime GOP strategist Ward Baker, who is involved with the Ortagus campaign, said in a tweet on Tuesday that state Sen. Frank Niceley, who sponsored the residency requirement, was motivated by “anti-semitism” in his efforts to prevent Ortagus, who is Jewish, from running.
Baker did not comment on the state GOP’s move to kick Ortagus or two other candidates off the ballot. It is unclear whether the Ortagus campaign plans to challenge the decision, which would likely involve a lawsuit against the Tennessee Republican Party.
“Our team is evaluating the options before us,” Ortagus said in her statement.
The move surely came as a surprise to Ortagus, whose team expected that party officials would reinstate her on the ballot after hearing from so-called “vouchers” who planned to affirm her GOP credentials before the executive committee this week. As one Ortagus ally told CNN last week, “My expectation is that the state party will ultimately certify her.”
Trump, whose endorsement stirred controversy inside his orbit among allies who felt she wasn’t a true believer in his movement, has not yet commented on the removal of Ortagus.