robby starbuck

Judge denies Starbuck’s effort to be put back on 5th District ballot

U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw has denied music video producer Robby Starbuck’s motion to be placed back on the Republican primary ballot for the 5th Congressional District.

“Exactly why Mr. Starbuck’s name was removed from the ballot the Court may never know,” Crenshaw wrote in Thursday’s order. “His Complaint speaks of smoke-filled rooms with carpetbaggers engaged in political chicanery reminiscent of the Daley machine in Chicago during the 60’s and 70’s, and New York’s Tammany Hall in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Whatever the reason, the only question now is whether Mr. Starbuck is entitled to a preliminary injunction under Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He is not.”

Starbuck sues over ouster from GOP ballot

Music video producer Robby Starbuck is suing over his removal from the Republican primary ballot in the 5th Congressional District. Starbuck was booted along with former U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus and businessman Baxter Lee.

“The state party is trying to go beyond the scope of what they’re allowed to do by kicking a bonafide Republican like me off the ballot” Starbuck said in a statement. “It’s the same sort of backroom trickery they tried to use against Trump in 2016 at the Republican convention — which is ironic since the state party is trying to get the next Republican convention to Nashville.”

Here’s the press release from the Starbuck camp:

Republican congressional candidate Robby Starbuck has responded to the Tennessee GOP scheme to effectively remove him from the ballot with a lawsuit, filed Monday afternoon in Federal court. The suit names the Tennessee Republican Party — which includes the State Executive Committee, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party Scott Golden, Coordinator of Elections Scott Goins, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and the office of the Secretary of State. 

The Starbuck campaign’s brief alleges that officials used secret and irregular means to prevent a free and fair election. The Starbuck campaign expects that disenfranchised Tennesseans and Robby Starbuck will be awarded relief in the form of a court-ordered reversal of the State Executive Committee’s decision, likely on constitutional grounds, to return Robby Starbuck to the ballot.

“The state party is trying to go beyond the scope of what they’re allowed to do by kicking a bonafide Republican like me off the ballot” said Starbuck. “It’s the same sort of backroom trickery they tried to use against Trump in 2016 at the Republican convention — which is ironic since the state party is trying to get the next Republican convention to Nashville. Tennessee voters won’t forgive this behind the back theft of their choice on Election Day. Disenfranchising our voters robs them of an America First candidate aligned with President Trump, leaving them with only weak alternatives — Tennesseans demand a reversal!”

Starbuck is also fighting for two of his primary opponents to be reinstated on the ballot, Baxter Lee and Morgan Ortagus. 

“This is not communist Cuba, where my family escaped from,” Starbuck commented. “In America, the party doesn’t get to just SELECT candidates that they like — the people get to ELECT the candidate they want on Election Day!”

President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. expressed his support for Starbuck on Twitter earlier this week. .

“This lawsuit is a testing point—and hopefully a turning point—that could end backroom politics” concluded Starbuck. “We’re not going to stop fighting until WE THE PEOPLE are given our constitutional rights back.”

State GOP boots Ortagus, Lee, and Starbuck from 5th District primary ballot

Three prominent candidates for the open 5th Congressional District failed to get restored to the Republican ballot Tuesday as members of the GOP’s executive committee representing the newly-drawn seat decided they weren’t bona fide members of the party, and thus ineligible to run under the GOP banner.

Missing the cut are Morgan Ortagus, a former U.S. Senate Department spokeswoman who was endorsed by Donald Trump, businessman Baxter Lee, and music video producer Robby Starbuck.

The move came after Gov. Bill Lee held on to a bill seeking to establish three-year residency requirements for congressional candidates. By waiting to decline to sign the legislation, it became law after the April 7 filing deadline. And because the law couldn’t apply retroactively, recent transplants Ortagus and Starbuck were allowed to stay on the ballot.

The state party is the ultimate arbiter of who can run in its primaries, making it uncertain what recourse may remain for the three ousted candidates. Democrats removed then-Sen. Rosalind Kurita as the nominee for the Montgomery County-based district in 2008 in what was widely seen as retribution for voting for Ron Ramsey to become the Senate’s first Republican speaker since Reconstruction.

The 6th Circuit in 2012 upheld a ruling by then-U.S. District Judge Robert Echols of Nashville that the state Democratic Party’s primary board acted within its lawful authority when it stripped Kurita of the nomination despite her 19-vote victory.

Statement from Ortagus:

I am deeply disappointed in the SEC’s decision. I’m a bonafide Republican by their standards, and frankly, by any metric. I’m further disappointed that the party insiders at the Tennessee Republican Party do not seem to share my commitment to President Trump’s America First policies. As I have said all along, I believe that voters in Middle Tennessee should pick their representative – not establishment party insiders. Our team is evaluating the options before us.

Starbuck raises $104K in quarter, $350K to date in 5th District

Robby Starbuck’s quarterly fundraising trails top-tier candidates in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District. The music video producer brought in $104,524 through the most recent reporting period, well behind Morgan Ortagus (nearly $600,000), Kurt Winstead ($520,000), Beth Harwell ($350,000). and Baxter Lee ($317,000).

But Starbuck got into the race long before his rivals and has raised $349,386 since last summer. About a quarter of Starbuck’s haul in the first quarter came in form of small, unitemized donations. He spent $71,000, bringing his total to $179,979. He had $172,265 remaining on hand as of March 31.

Ortagus makes 5th District bid official

Former State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus is making her congressional bid official. Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Ortagus on Jan. 25 came as a surprise to many observers in Tennessee political circles and spawned a backlash among some conservatives who preferred the candidacy of music video producer Robby Starbuck.

UPDATE: Attorney and retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead has filed papers to start raising money for a bid for the GOP nomination. So has Williamson County businessman Baxter Lee.

Ortagus’ launch video hits on familiar Trump-heavy themes:

Here’s the release from the Ortagus camp:

NASHVILLE, TN — Today, former Trump State Department spokeswoman, active duty Navy Reserve Officer and business executive, Morgan Ortagus, formally announced her bid to represent Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District. On January 25th, President Trump announced his “complete and total endorsement” of her candidacy.

Speaking about the announcement, Ortagus said, “In President Trump’s Administration I fought for conservative policies that put America first, but now, we must fight harder than we ever have before to push back against the Democrats’ extremism. We built the wall, created a strong economy, stood up to our adversaries, and promoted freedom at home and abroad, but the Biden Administration and their radical Democrat allies in Congress are dead-set on undoing that good work. As a U.S. Navy Reserve Officer, I am answering the call to service, and I will never back down from fighting for my country and the good people of Tennessee to stand for American greatness. I’m grateful to have President Trump’s support, and I look forward to earning your vote and standing with you to protect our conservative values.“

Morgan Ortagus is an active U.S. Navy Reserve Officer and a business executive. She served in President Trump’s Department of State. Morgan and her husband Jonathan have a daughter, Adina, who is the light of their lives. They live in Nashville.