Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to duck the questions when The Tennessee Star asked for comment on his support for TN-5 carpetbagger candidate Morgan Ortagus.
After Ortagus’ recent appearance on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy, The Tennessee Star reached out to Secretary Pompeo’s CAV-PAC team for comment and to ask what consideration was given prior to endorsing Ortagus.
1 – Prior to his endorsement, did Secretary Pompeo give much thought to the idea that he was endorsing someone who only registered to vote in Tennessee three months ago and does not live in the 5th District?
2 – Does Secretary Pompeo have a comment on the fact that his endorsed candidate for Congress in TN-5 could not name the major highways that go in and around the district?
3 – Has the Secretary considered what the endorsement of a candidate that is parachuting into the race from another locale and clearly does not know the state of Tennessee or the 5th district, which she does not live in, does to the credibility of his other endorsements?
Pompeo’s press team was given three opportunities to comment, but as of this writing, they’ve dodged the questions.
In the interview with Michael Patrick Leahy, Ortagus displayed extremely limited knowledge of the district that she is seeking to represent, but does not live in. Ortagus could not even name the main highways that thousands of Middle Tennesseans drive on every day.
Leahy: Here we go. What three interstate highways are located in the 5th Congressional District?
Ortagus: I’m a terrible driver. (Laughs) I don’t know that. I don’t drive anywhere that I go.
Leahy: Okay. It’s I-65, I-40, and I-24.
The Star previously reached out to Secretary Pompeo’s team for comment after his endorsement of Ortagus was announced, and Secretary Pompeo’s team dodged the issue of carpetbagger status.
1 – In endorsing Morgan Ortagus for TN-5, did Secretary Pompeo consider Ortagus’ extremely recent ties to Tennessee?
Background: Ortagus has been registered to vote in TN for less than 3 months.
2 – Did Secretary Pompeo consider that she may not be eligible to compete in the GOP primary due to her recent move to TN and pending legislation at the TN General Assembly?
As of this writing, the only response from Pompeo’s press office for his CAV-PAC is, “Our quote in the endorsement release stands on its own.”
Pompeo’s endorsement of Ortagus – who has virtually no ties to the Fifth Congressional District and registered to vote in the state barely three months ago – appears to signal a move by some national leaders in the Republican Party towards a British Parliamentary style of selecting candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, as opposed to a traditional American style. Under the British Parliamentary approach, the party leadership selects candidates for seats in The House of Commons of the United Kingdom to represent geographic areas who have no ties to those areas but are perceived to be loyal to party leadership.
Pompeo said when he endorsed Ortagus, “In Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, I can’t think of a stronger candidate than Morgan Ortagus. Morgan played a critical role in our administration’s efforts to put America first and to restore American greatness to our foreign policy. She has served her country honorably in the executive branch and in our military, and I know she’ll continue to champion the American values we share in Congress.”
As Pompeo and his team have consistently refused to address the issue of Ortagus’ carpetbagger status, it is unclear if he knew about any other candidate in the GOP primary for TN-5 or considered how this particular endorsement could affect his credibility in the other races that he is endorsing in.
Ortagus has been registered to vote in Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional district for three months. She told Leahy on the radio, that the primary that she is running in will be the first Tennessee election she’ll get to vote in.
Other candidates seeking the GOP nomination in the August 4 Tennessee 5th Congressional District Republican primary are former Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Beth Harwell, California native and music video director Robby Starbuck, businessman Baxter Lee, former Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead, and Natisha Brooks. Several others are collecting qualifying petitions for the race.
Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles and Tennessee state Senate staffer Tres Wittum are considering whether to run.
Candidates have until April 7 to file their petitions for the GOP primary.
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