General Winstead filed his FEC forms on February 7, 2022. Winstead retired from the Tennessee National Guard on February 6, 2022.
Winstead most recently served as Director of the Joint Staff for the Tennessee National Guard. A press release issued by the Tennessee Department of Military announcing his retirement on January 27, 2022 said of Winstead:
He began his military career in 1990 when he received a direct commission as a First Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate Corps. He was assigned to the Tennessee National Guard’s 194th Engineer Brigade where he provided legal services to soldiers in the unit.
Throughout his career, Winstead served in numerous positions of increased responsibility. In 2004, Winstead deployed to Iraq as the Staff Judge Advocate for Jackson’s 194th Engineer Brigade where he was instrumental in forming a consolidated legal office that provided legal services to over 5,000 soldiers and airmen during Operation Iraqi Freedom III. Following his deployment, he became Tennessee’s Senior Staff Judge Advocate at the Joint Force Headquarters in Nashville where he served from 2009 to 2017.
“Brig. Gen. Winstead has been an integral part of our organization for over 30 years,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “His leadership and passion for helping people will be sorely missed, but we thank him for his dedication spanning three decades, and wish him luck on what lies ahead of him.”
Throughout his career, Winstead earned numerous recognitions, including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal and the Iraqi Campaign Medal. He also earned a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2010.
General Winstead received his Juris Doctorate of the University of Richmond and he’s been practicing law for over 32 years. He’s a founding partner in Nashville law firm Rudy Winstead Turner, PLLC. He and his wife, Beth, have two daughters.
The Tennessee Star previously reported that the Tennessee Republican Party bylaws state in Article IX that a candidate must be considered a “bona fide Republican” in order to qualify to seek the Republican nomination. A “bona fide Republican” must satisfy the following:
A. Any individual who is actively involved in the Tennessee Republican Party, his County Republican Party, or any recognized auxiliary organization of either; and resides and is registered to vote in said county; and either
B. Any individual who has voted in at least three (3) of the four (4) most recent Statewide Republican primary elections; or
C. Any individual who is vouched for in writing (to the satisfaction of the decision makers defined herein) as a bona fide Republican by an officer of the TRP or a member of the CEC, excluding SEC members, of the County and/or District where said individual resides. The decision makers defined herein may require additional verification that said individual is indeed a bona fide Republican.
According to Williamson County election officials, Winstead voted in both Tennessee Republican statewide primaries in 2020, one in 2018, and one in 2016. That more than satisfies section B, as Winstead has voted in at least all of the four most recent statewide Republican primaries.
To satisfy section A, an individual must give either time or money to the Tennessee Republican Party, the County Republican Party, or any recognized auxiliary organization of either. That must have occurred since the most recent County Republican Party reorganization. If a candidate satisfied both sections A and B, then a vouching process is unnecessary.
This apparent new entry into the race comes the same day that former State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus officially announced her candidacy. In recent days, Baxter Lee also entered the race. Robby Starbuck has been a declared candidate since 2020.
Former Tennessee State House Speaker Beth Harwell and Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles are still said to be weighing their options.
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