Ogles and Leahy on the ‘Carpetbaggers’ Vying for the GOP Nomination in Tennessee’s New Fifth Congressional District


Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy and Mayor Andy Ogles discuss the ongoing Republican primary for Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District.

Leahy: Andy Ogles, mayor of Maury County. I’ll do it again. (Laughs) That bastion of freedom! That turbocharged engine of economic growth!

Andy. You’re smiling.

Ogles: It makes me smile. I’m biased. I love Tennessee. My family’s always been here. In fact, my family was one of the founding families of East Tennessee. And then, of course, I’m biased.

Leahy: Your family’s been here since before 1800, I think.

Ogles: Oh, that’s right.  In fact, the oldest residential structure in the state is one of the cabins that my family built.

Leahy: Is that in the Jonesborough area?

Ogles: Up there in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge. Yes. If we go back and if you look at the plaque that’s up there and you look at my son’s names, the names of Isaac and William and Andrew and Thomas and John. Actually, Hercules is a family name.

Leahy: But of course. (Laughs)

Ogles: I’ll be honest, that name has fallen away.

Leahy: Anybody that sees Andy, the name that comes to mind is Hercules. Right?

Ogles: I’m fit, but I’m not that fit, but anyway. But those names have carried through the generations, which is pretty cool.

Leahy: Very interesting. I want to get your reaction, Andy, to what we just heard from Chairman Scott Golden, by the way, a very good guy in a very hard job. And he’s been doing it for some time.

Ogles: Yes. I’ve known Scott a long time. And I think what anybody who knows Scott will say is he’s a good person trying to do the right thing. And this bylaw change – I don’t think anyone anticipated the controversy that would kind of spill out.

Leahy: This is just me talking, I don’t think anybody anticipated a caravan of carpetbaggers (Ogles laughs) coming in to run for the Fifth Congressional District.

Ogles: As opposed to some of us that have lived here forever. I’m a little bit offended, I’ll be honest with you. There’s a little over 750,000 people in every congressional district.

And the idea that we can’t find someone from the Fifth who has at least been here more than say I mean, one of them the candidates is running has been here just a few months and never voted here.

And you want to fly into my state, parachute in, and become my congressman? I am going to knock so many doors to stop anyone like that from representing my county, representing me and my family. It’s ridiculous.

Leahy: It is fascinating because we look at the law and we love the Constitution. We abide by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Tennessee and the statutes and the bylaws of the Republican Party. These are the things that I think are the standards. And it’s interesting. We looked at these carpetbaggers…

Ogles: Your word. You said it!

Leahy: It’s my word. But I mean, come on. Of course, the history is carpetbaggers. The carpetbag was a suitcase made of carpets called carpet baggers that –  let’s say unscrupulous Northerners – would travel during the reconstruction period after the end of the Civil War.

And from 1865 to 1877, when a number of residents of the South were denied the privilege of voting for their part in the Civil War, the governance of many states was handled by these carpetbaggers who came down from the North and kind of lorded over the folks here.

Not very popular. It is a pejorative term. And yet it does seem to be accurate to describe somebody who has lived in Tennessee for two and a half years or two months and decides, ‘Oh, I want to run for Congress.’

I think it is descriptive to call that person or those persons carpetbaggers. I think that’s fair. The Constitution does not prohibit a carpetbagger from coming to a new state (Ogles chuckles) and running for office.

The carpetbaggers have rights (Laughs) and running for Congress is one of those rights. All you have to do to be a carpetbagger and run for Congress in the state is to be a resident of that state and to be over 25.

In order to run for a Republican primary, Scott Golden just laid it out. You have to have voted in three of the last four Republican primaries. And if you don’t meet that standard, then somebody has to vouch for you. And there’s a process you go through on that.

Ogles: And it should be noted, you can import your voting record. So let’s say you’ve lived in Georgia and you just moved here and you’ve always voted in Republican primaries, you can import that record as part of your record here. So it’s not excluding someone who just moved here as far as becoming, ‘bona fide.’

Leahy: It’s the Carpetbagger’s Rights Act.

Ogles: Again, you said it.

Leahy: I know. I said it. I’m having too much fun with it. For instance, if a certain candidate as yet unannounced, but has been endorsed by the president, that would be Morgan Ortagus, who arrived here and registered to vote in November. So it’s been at least two months.

Ogles: Wow!

Leahy: Since she registered.

Ogles: I’m going to get her a map.

Leahy: So we’ll get a map and a GPS. And by the way, it’s been reported Ward Baker, a friend of ours, is managing her campaign, and I’m sure he’s listening to this right now. I’m sure I’ll get a lengthy text about this. (Chuckles)

But nonetheless, if Morgan Ortagus had been when she imports her record, and I think it would include the June 2020 GOP primary in Washington, D.C., and I think before that, it was New York State, we’ll see.

We’ll find her record of voting. And if she meets that standard, she won’t need to be vouched for and she’ll get on the ballot.

Ogles: Right.

Leahy: However, Robby Starbuck is a totally different story. There are elements here that are problematic for Robby. And that is he told me right here on this program and Crom Carmichael was sitting right where you are right now, when I asked him point blank, Robby there’s a three out of four standard.

Did you vote in March 2020 and August 2020 GOP primary in Tennessee to which he said yes. When we went to Williamson County, we got the voting records, and the voting records provided by Williamson County showed he did not vote in the March 2020 election or in the August 2020 election.

So therefore, he wouldn’t meet that standard of three out of four. So we presented that information to Robby, can you confirm or deny this?

He didn’t deny those records were accurate, and yet he continues to claim that he voted in every election. I mean, these are false statements that he’s making. Robby if you’re listening, you’re welcome to come in or to call the newsmaker line.

But we’re only going to talk about one thing, Robby, and that is, have you presented evidence that is different than what the Williamson County election officials have provided us, that you did not vote in March of 2020 and August of 2020?

I think the one thing he ought to do is either present that evidence, which nobody’s seen. Certainly, the Williamson County Chairperson Cheryl Brown hasn’t seen it. She told us that last night.

Or he needs to ‘fess up and say, ‘No, I was not truthful and I didn’t vote, and therefore, I’m going to have to be vouched for to get on the ballot.’ I think that would be an honest Tennessee values kind of thing to do.

So Robby, if you’re listening, if you want to have that conversation, you can come here anytime we’ll talk about that.

We’ll see how that all plays out.

The interesting thing we talked about with Chairman Golden is how that vouching vote will take place.

And he suggested statewide it’ll be conference call. I can understand why it would do that. But I think of the Fifth Congressional District, if there’s a controversy, I think that ought to be public.  He seemed open to that idea.

Ogles: Yes. And I get where he’s kind of caught between a rock and a hard place here because it’s one of those I think expedience is important as well as transparency. And so you’ve got a lot of members coming from different parts of the state to cast this vote.

And there are elections all over the state. And so how do they get it done and get it done quickly? Whether it’s a two person race or six person race affects who might get in or who might not get in. Here we are. It’s February 1st. The filing deadline is April 7th.

And so if you’re a candidate or thinking about being a candidate or if you’re a volunteer and you’re wanting to engage with the campaign, you want to know who is actually going to run. And so this process, I think regardless of how they decide to do it, needs to be quick and efficient, and get it out there.

Leahy: And I think also transparent.

Ogles: Absolutely.

Leahy: I think the public and so in the case of one candidate who we know will be challenged, Robby Starbuck, his supporters ought to be able to understand whether the reason why he either is or is not on the ballot and I don’t see how you can do that unless it’s public.

Ogles: Yes. And in the records I’ve seen it’s now been reported in the media, there are copies of the voting record. Two out of four, you’re not bona fide.

Leahy: You’re not bona fide. You got to get vouched for and you got to go and that vouching has to be approved by I think it’s like a 13-member committee on which Scott Golden serves. I don’t think it helps you, Robby Starbuck if you are basically lying about your voting record.

Doubling down and tripling down on it, I don’t think that’s going to go over very well. You ought to reconsider that and come on and talk about that.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Robby Starbuck” by Robby Starbuck















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One Thought to “Ogles and Leahy on the ‘Carpetbaggers’ Vying for the GOP Nomination in Tennessee’s New Fifth Congressional District”

  1. LM

    Mr. Ogles , I hope you run for governor.