The Tennessee GOP empire strikes back

Morgan Ortagus in June 2020.


Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

November’s election looks good for Republicans, who can beat Democrats on everything from inflation to foreign policy. So, of course, the GOP is behaving in a self-destructive manner: Watch the spectacle in Tennessee, where the state party barred a Donald Trump-backed congressional candidate from the primary.

We told readers about the shenanigans in Tennessee, where state lawmakers recently attempted to disqualify some congressional candidates by fulfilling a three-year residency permit mid-election cycle. This was a naked attempt to paralyze political competition. The law became law earlier this month without the governor’s signature, but state officials ruled it would not apply retrospectively.

Candidates like Morgan Ortagus, who moved to the state last year and is running for an open chamber seat in the Fifth Circuit, could therefore freely bring her case before voters. But on Tuesday, the state GOP’s executive committee voted to bar Ms. Ortagus and other candidates from voting.

Ms. Ortagus’ campaign has said it meets the party’s qualification requirements, one of which is having contested three of the last four primary elections, and not just in Tennessee. A candidate may also qualify if a party leader vouches for a candidate as a “bona fide” Republican, which Ms. Ortagus certainly is. She was a spokeswoman for the Trump administration’s State Department. She was endorsed by President Trump, who is a Republican, at least for those purposes.

Remarkably, it’s only getting worse. One residency law supporter, Senator Frank Niceley, chimed in with a scathing remark to NBC: “I don’t think Trump cares one way or the other” regarding the party’s moves. “I think Jared Kushner — he’s Jewish, she’s Jewish — I think Jared will be upset. Ivanka will be upset. I don’t think Trump cares.” Ms. Ortagus is Jewish, and the innuendo here is not subtle.

This is the expressway to shrinking the Republican Party and losing elections. The Republican National Committee has been considering a 2024 convention in Nashville, but Milwaukee keeps looking better. Ms Ortagus’ campaign says it is evaluating next steps, but the best outcome would be if the state GOP reverses its decision and renounces self-embarrassment.

Review and Outlook: Two million migrants have been turned away under Title 42 authority, and President Biden has no backup plan to control immigration when the May 23 health measure ends. Images: Reuters/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the print edition on April 21, 2022. The Tennessee GOP empire strikes back

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