Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Tennessee residency requirement for congressional primaries heads to Lee's desk. Would bar Trump endorsed candidate Morgan Ortagus from running in GOP primary.

Morgan Ortagus
 By Jon Styf | The Center Square, Mar 29, 2022 - A bill that would require a candidate to live in Tennessee for three years in order to run in a Republican or Democrat primary election for Congress is headed to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk.

The bill would go into effect immediately upon Lee's signature, meaning Republican Morgan Ortagus would be blocked from running in the Republican primary for Tennessee’s newly drawn 5th Congressional District.

Ortagus, backed by former President Donald Trump, is the former spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State.

The 5th Congressional District seat is opening up after current U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, said he will not run in the newly drawn district.

Senate Bill 2616 passed with different amendments in the Tennessee Senate and House. The House approved an amendment to make the bill valid after this fall’s general election.

The House reconsidered that amendment, however, late Monday and withdrew its amendment.

“We would require three-year residency in the state of Tennessee to be on the ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate,” sponsoring Rep. Dave Wright, R-Corryton, said.

Wright had verbally opposed the House amendment when it originally passed but had voted to advance the bill.

Candidates have picked up petitions but have not reached the filing deadline for primary races, which is noon April 7. If the bill is signed, Ortagus could run for the 5th Congressional seat as an independent but not in a primary.

During Senate State and Local Government Committee discussion, the constitutionality of imposing limitations on running for federal seats was discussed. Sponsoring Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, said in committee he believes having the bill focused on primary nominations will prevent that from being an issue before the Aug. 4 primary.


The Tennessee Star - ... If the legislation becomes enacted into law, TN-5’s Republican primary field will have a drastic shakeup. Carpetbaggers Morgan Ortagus and David Vitalli will be immediately ineligible to run, except as third-party candidates. California native Robby Starbuck would likely be ineligible as well. Starbuck had previously refused to address questions made by The Star about his residency claims.

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