Live from Music Row Thursday 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 welcomed all-star panelist Clint Brewer in-studio to comment upon Governor Bill Lee’s inconsistent comments regarding the three GOP primary candidates who have been removed from the ballot.
Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our microphones, all-star panelist, recovering journalist, and public affairs specialist Clint Brewer. Good morning, Clint.
Brewer: Good morning, Mike.
Leahy: What was the drive in like this morning?
Brewer: It was rainy and wet, and I was getting tailgated, and it was frustrating.
Leahy: But you’re here now.
Brewer: I’m here now and I’m happy to be here.
Leahy: You’re happy to be here. And we are going to have a delightful conversation right now about our lead story at The Tennessee Star, the tennesseestar.com. Governor Bill Lee doesn’t answer any of our questions, ever. Except for yesterday, he did answer a question.
And it wasn’t because we sent an inquiry to his press office, because they never respond. Turns out we have a very good relationship with the office of Senator Bill Hagerty. And they always invite us to his events, and we always show up and we ask good questions and go on and report it.
Yesterday, Senator Hagerty invited Governor Bill Lee to a joint press conference at their offices here in Nashville, and we attended that joint press conference.
The press conference was about setting up a border security task force that Governor Lee is involved in and Senator Hagerty is supporting.
A good cause, but it went a little awry for Governor Lee. Here’s our headline:”Gov. Bill Lee Unable to Explain Why He Criticizes Removal of Morgan Ortagus from GOP Primary Ballot but Supports Removal of His Two Gubernatorial Rivals.”
This wasn’t something that we intended, but a reporter there from another news outlet asked Governor Lee this question: ‘Do you think that Morgan Ortagus should run in District 5?’ Lee responded, ‘I think that voters of the 5th district should decide who represents them in Congress.’
And just to remind everybody, on Tuesday night, a subcommittee of the State Executive Committee voted not to restore Morgan Ortagus or Robby Starbuck to the ballot. They’ll be off the ballot here and they’ll be not on the primary ballot in August 2024.
So a few minutes after that question was posed to Governor Bill Lee, and he gave the answer that he’s been giving – the same answer, by the way, that Morgan Ortagus’s campaign has been giving.
So, our intrepid reporter Aaron Gulbransen asked these two questions: Number one, Governor Lee, do you believe that the party has a right to remove Morgan Ortagus based upon its bylaws, which are established and in compliance with the state code?
And then, secondly, would you comment, Governor Lee, on the likelihood that some candidates in opposition to you in the primary are probably going to be tossed out of the race and off the ballot in accordance with those bylaws?
And later last night, these two potential opponents were tossed off the ballot for governor in accordance to the bylaws. Deer in the headlights is how Governor Bill Lee responded.
He said to the first question that the State Executive Committee has its rules and followed its process. On the second question, he wanted to keep Morgan Ortagus on the ballot, but wants his two rivals off the ballot.
His response: All I’ll say about that, I believe and I’ve said before, I think the voters should decide who their representatives are.
So that’s a little bit inconsistent, wouldn’t you say?
Brewer: Yes and no. I understand the point you’re making. I think that the governor, like many, is tiptoeing around the Morgan Ortagus issue largely due to her initial endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
Leahy: Who’s also endorsed Governor Lee.
Leahy: And by the way, whose endorsement before he even announced was the key factor that really helped get Senator Hagerty into the United States Senate.
Brewer: Yes. Former President Trump has been obviously a huge factor in politics in this state, as he has been in many. And I think the governor’s answer was a very careful one.
Leahy: Let me just jump in. What he said is, he said, “I believe and I’ve said before, I think the voters should decide who their representatives are.”
Leahy: So apparently he thinks the voters should decide who their representatives are but apparently not who the gubernatorial candidates are.
Brewer: Well, that also leaves out the issue of the state executive committee, who’s really the decider about who gets on the ballot.
Leahy: By the bylaws and state laws.
Brewer: I think the governor is being careful in his answer, as have others in this state.
Leahy: Or as I would say, Governor Lee, you’re being absolutely inconsistent here. (Chuckles)
Listen to the interview here:
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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.
Background Photo “People Voting” by Ben Schumin. CC BY-SA 3.0.