A newly announced TN-5 candidate is receiving a lot of national attention.
Former Trump administration State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus’ first week as a candidate in the Republican primary for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional seat included several national interviews.
Foreign policy and the situation in Ukraine, along with Ortagus’ discussion of her campaign, were topics that were covered.
After her announcement on Fox and Friends, Ortagus did appear on Nashville’s Morning News with Dan Mandis on local Nashville station 99.7 WTN, where she dodged questions about her previous disparaging remarks about President Trump.
Ortagus’ former position at the State Department was high-profile and gave her many national media contacts. In addition to running for U.S. representative from Tennessee, Ortagus currently serves as a national security contributor at Fox News.
Ortagus’ ties to Tennessee and the 5th District are minimal, however. The Tennessee Star previously reported that she does not live in TN-5, residing just outside the new lines, and she registered to vote in Tennessee on November 29, 2021. Ortagus has never voted in a Tennessee election.
The bulk of materials on the Ortagus campaign website reference President Trump’s endorsement, as well as national campaign issues.
Ortagus served as Trump administration State Department spokesman from 2019-2021 under then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Secretary Pompeo has yet to make an endorsement in TN-5’s Republican primary, but it would be considered a major surprise if he didn’t back Ortagus, like his former boss President Trump has.
Secretary Pompeo currently serves as Senior Counsel for Global Affairs at Christian nonprofit the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Former member of President Trump’s impeachment legal team, Jay Sekulow, serves as chief counsel for the ACLJ.
One former Trump administration official is backing another candidate. Former acting director of national intelligence and former U.S. ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell has endorsed music video director Robby Starbuck. Like Pompeo, Grenell also serves in a high-profile position at the ACLJ, as a senior advisor for National Security and Foreign Policy. Grenell’s endorsement did come well before redistricting, when Starbuck was seeking the nomination under the old 5th district lines.
Other candidates who have publicly announced their candidacies in the GOP primary are music video director Robby Starbuck, former Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead, businessman Baxter Lee, and Natisha Brooks. Former Williamson County GOP chair Omar Hamada, Geni Bachelor and Annabelle Lee are reported to be collecting petitions.
Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles and former Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell are considering entry into the race.
The 5th Congressional District includes parts of Davidson, parts of Wilson, parts of Williamson, all of Marshall, Maury, and Lewis counties.
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