Tennessee State Rep. David Wright (R-19) told The Tennessee Star on Thursday he intends to amend the House version of SB 2616 so that the effective date of the bill’s three year residency requirement to qualify as a candidate for a Congressional primary in the state from 2022 to 2024 because it would be “too confusing” to make it effective this year.
Representative Wright is the main sponsor of HB2764, the state House companion bill to Senator Frank Niceley’s Senate legislation establishing residency requirements for U.S. Senate and U.S. House candidates running in primaries.
The Senate legislation establishes a three-year residency requirement to qualify for the Tennessee primary ballot in U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives elections.
Currently, the House bill has language which would prohibit a person from being nominated as a candidate for U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives unless they had voted in the three previous Tennessee elections. The Senate version that had the same language was amended prior to being passed by a key Senate committee on Tuesday.
The amended Senate legislation says, “In order to qualify as a candidate in a primary election for United States Senate or for member of the United States House of Representatives, a person shall meet the residency requirements for state senators and representatives contained in the Tennessee Constitution.” That version has the effect of requiring a candidate for in U.S. Senate or U.S. House primary to have been a Tennessee resident for three years.
Rep. Wright told The Tennessee Star that he intends to amend his House legislation on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 to reflect the changes made in the Senate version, the major exception being that the new residency requirements will take effect after this year’s elections. That is a significant change from Senator Niceley’s version.
HB2764 has been placed on the calendar for consideration by the House Elections & Campaign Finance Subcommittee for Feb. 23, 2022.
Representative Wright told The Star that he felt that it would be “too confusing” for the legislation to take effect for this year’s elections. He added that this residency issue should have been resolved a long time ago.
He did not elaborate on why voters would find it “too confusing.”
Sources tell The Star that Speaker Cameron Sexton and House Majority Leader William Lamberth have put political pressure on Wright to get him to change the effective date on his version of the legislation.
The Star reached out to Speaker Sexton’s office to ask if the Speaker had put pressure on Wright. Doug Kufner, a spokesman for Speaker Sexton, said:
No. This legislation is Rep. Wright’s, and it is his decision how he moves forward with it. I’m sure he has spoken to members of the committee and other members about this legislation as he continues preparing for next week’s subcommittee meeting.
Leader Lamberth’s office was also asked for comment but has not provided one as of this writing.
The Star previously reported that the version that passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee would preclude music video director Robby Starbuck and former Trump administration State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus from running in the Tennessee 5th Congressional district GOP primary. That version has been referred to the Senate Calendar Committee, whose responsibility it is to schedule it for Senate floor consideration.
Morgan Ortagus said to The Star regarding Senator Niceley’s version, “I’ll leave state matters to the state legislature. I’m focused on earning the support of 5th-District Tennesseans who want a conservative fighter to defend President Trump’s agenda.”
The issue of potential residency requirements has become a politically charged one in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional Republican primary.
If Representative Wright is able to successfully amend his legislation and change the effective, it is possible that his version could gain steam and be used to sabotage Senator Niceley’s version.
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