Conservatives Stunned: Trump Endorses Ruth Bader Ginsburg Fan Ortagus for TN-5 Seat


At 8:11 p.m. East Coast time, Tuesday, President Donald J. Trump sent out an email to the millions of his supporters on his list announcing that if she decides to run he will endorse Morgan Ortagus for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District – and the conservative backlash was quick and negative.

“Ortagus and Bill Gates” by Morgan Ortagus/Instagram

“I am told that very strong and impressive Morgan Ortagus is exploring a run from Congress in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. I couldn’t be happier because she’s an absolute warrior for America First and MAGA!” said the president, who went on to mention her work as a press secretary for then-Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and her service as a Navy Reserve officer.

“Morgan Ortagus will have my Complete and Total Endorsement if she decides to run,” Trump said.

A number of conservatives around the country and in Tennessee reacted negatively to the former president’s announcement about Ortagus, who apparently moved to Tennessee less than a year ago, in February 2021. Sources tell The Tennessee Star that Ortagus did not register to vote in Tennessee until November 2021, and that her listed residence may be outside the boundaries of the newly redrawn boundaries for the 5th Congressional District.

Despite Trump’s sky high approval rating among Tennessee GOP primary voters, many locals were unimpressed with his statement of support for Ortagus.

“If Donald Trump can come in and anoint who would be a Republican Congressman from Tennessee, then we are no longer a political party, we are a cult with the election merely a formality with voters as pawns,” one long time Tennessee Republican volunteer who has lived in Middle Tennessee for decades told The Star.

Three candidates have announced they are running for the Republican nomination for the 5th Congressional District, but only one, Robby Starbuck, has gained much traction.

Starbuck, a Cuban-American music video director, who left Hollywood in 2019 and moved to Tennessee to raise his family, announced his own bid for Congress June 2021 with an endorsement from Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul.

Tyler Bowyer, the chief operating officer for TurningPointUSA, told The Star that Starbuck earned the support he garnered from conservatives.

“Robby has been a stalwart supporter of grassroots activity as long as I’ve known him. A big America First supporter of activists nationwide and in his home state,” he said.

Bowyer said Starbuck is the obvious choice to replace Democrat Rep. James S.H. “Jim” Cooper, the Groton graduate and Rhodes scholar, who represented the Nashville and Nashville suburbs district since 2003, and previously the nearby 4th district from 1983 to 1995.

“Ortagus and Justice Ginsburg” by Morgan Ortagus/Instagram

“Yeah, it was a seeming no-brainer to support Robby for Trump. I hope it’s a massive oversight. I don’t love seeing the grassroots on the opposite side of Trump, and certainly don’t like seeing his endorsed candidates lose primaries,” he said. “I think that will be the result here as almost all of Trump’s base supports Robby.”

Upon the Cooper announcement, Starbuck posted on his social media: “When I filed to run, I said we’d make Jim Cooper retire. We did it before we got to Election Day. A new era begins now. In TN5 I’ll fight to put America First, make sure mandates never happen again, fix our economy, hold China accountable, and much more!”

Several national conservatives, like former White House official Sebastian Gorka; Arizona figures such as gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake and state GOP chair Dr. Kelli Ward; and political analyst Kurt Schlichter took to Twitter and rallied around Starbuck.

Ryan James Girdusky, a political consultant affiliated with PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel’s political action committees, was also quick with his response supporting Starbuck.

However, despite Starbuck’s early support from national conservatives outside of Tennessee, questions remain as to the Tennessee newcomer’s eligibility to run as a Republican in the state’s 5th congressional district primary in August, whether he has yet legally changed his name from his birth name of Robert Newsom to Robby Starbuck, his lack of any prior public record, and the details of his music video career.

Furthermore, the newly redrawn district is likely to attract a number of experienced Tennessee lawmakers with substantial track records to run for the now-open seat.

Potential candidates who have expressed interest in making a run include former Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, and retired Tennessee National Guard Brigadier General Kurt Winstead. Ogles is a native of Tennessee who has lived in the state all of his life. Both Harwell and Winstead have been residents of Tennessee for more than three decades.

“Ortagus with RGB needlepoint” by Morgan Ortagus/Instagram

As for Ortagus’ track record, the possible congressional candidate will have a number of matters to discuss with the rock-ribbed conservative base of the 5th district, including her close relationship with the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who officiated Ortagus’ May 2013 marriage to Jonathan R. Weinberger in her chambers, before a religious ceremony that night at Georgetown’s Four Seasons Hotel.

Later, when her daughter was born, Ortagus posted a photo on Instagram from a New York brunch party her friends threw for her with a needlepoint with the Ginsburg quote: “Women belong in all places where decisions are made.”

In 2016, Ortagus served as a surrogate for the Jeb Bush presidential campaign and was highly critical of Trump.

Although the former White House staffer has not announced yet for Congress, she responded to  Trump’s endorsement with: “Thank you, President Trump! It was an honor working for the #AmericaFirst agenda in your administration. Like you, I’ll always fight for American greatness.”

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Neil W. McCabe is the national political editor for The Star News Network. Send him news tips at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @neilwmccabe2.



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6 Thoughts to “Conservatives Stunned: Trump Endorses Ruth Bader Ginsburg Fan Ortagus for TN-5 Seat”

  1. […] worked and lived there for several years, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg even officiated at her […]

  2. […] a shock to many Tennessee Republicans, former President Trump endorsed Ortagus for the 5th Congressional District seat on January 25, 2022 — more than a week before she […]

  3. […] voting record shows that he never voted in a Republican primary in Tennessee. Sources have told The Star that former Trump administration spokesman Morgan Ortagus did not register to vote in […]

  4. GENE

    Looks like someone didn’t do “proper” vetting of a candidate. Hopefully, someone on the “Trump Train” will inform DJT of this “mistake” ?

  5. John

    Oh man, this could be the nail in the coffin for this woman and Trump’s re-election bid. I don’t understand the man. He championed the right policies. He kept his campaign promises, to the best of his ability. But then things like this surface….smh…..

  6. George B D Levier