Tennessee GOP Twists All The Rules To Protect Andy Ogles

The leadership of the Tennessee Republican Party narrowly voted over the weekend to implement rules that the Tennessee Journal’s Erik Schelzig reports could keep several would-be primary foes for freshman Rep. Andy Ogles off the Aug. 1 ballot.

Schelzig adds that these new by-laws had been set take effect in 2026, but the party’s executive committee voted 32-29 to start enforcing them this cycle even though some members “conceded they didn’t understand entirely what they were voting on.”

Under the new plan, hopefuls who want to compete for any GOP nomination this year must have voted in three of the party’s last four primaries, which is similar to requirements that were already in place.

However, anyone who cast a ballot in the Democratic primary during this timeframe would not be allowed to run under the Republican banner even if they participated in the other three GOP contests. Another new rule also prevents any person who’s sued the state party from appearing on the primary ballot over the next decade.

Those changes are all unwelcome news for the would-be campaigns of businessman Baxter Lee and music video producer Robby Starbuck, two undeclared candidates who both failed a less-stringent version of this test in 2022 when they tried to run for this same seat.

Lee’s problem this time is that he voted in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, a choice he claims he made in order to “help secure the best match-up for President Trump.” Starbuck, meanwhile, unsuccessfully sued the party last cycle because he hadn’t lived in the state long enough to meet yet another of the party’s requirements.

Schelzig says that both Lee and Starbuck had been considering taking on Ogles, who currently has no credible intra-party opposition ahead of the April 4 filing deadline. Ogles has been the subject of unflattering investigative coverage by WTVF’s Phil Williams throughout the year.

Williams first reported in February that Ogles appears to have fabricated large portions of his life story, and in November he questioned how the congressman could have self-funded $320,000 in 2022 when he did not report having so much as a savings account on mandatory financial disclosures. The 5th District in Middle Tennessee favored Trump 54-43 under the gerrymander the GOP legislature passed last cycle.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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