NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a move Tuesday night, members of the Tennessee GOP Executive Committee voted to take three candidates off the ballot for the Congressional District 5 seat.
GOP chairman Scott Golden confirmed to NewsChannel 5 that members voted to remove Morgan Ortagus, Robby Starbuck and Baxter Lee.
The seat — held by now retiring Democrat Jim Cooper — has caused a stir in political circles after the Tennessee legislature redrew the lines for the district, which includes a portion of Nashville. As it stands now, the map carves Davidson County's current District 5 into three different districts.
The new District 5 takes shape with six counties: south Davidson, east Williamson, west Wilson, pieces of Lewis, parts of Maury and a slice of Marshall County.
In total, 14 candidates filled out paperwork to appear on the Republican primary ballot.
Now on the ballot remains former Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, former U.S. State Department retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead, Geni Batchelor, Jeff Beierlein, Natisha Brooks, Sarah A. Grams, Richie Lee, Timothy Bruce Lee, Stewart T. Parks and Tres Wittum.
While Golden didn't comment as to why the candidates were removed, Tennessee law gives the discretion to the committee to validate candidates through a definition of "bona fide" Republicans. As it stands, those who are "bona fide" have to have participated in three of the last four primaries as a Republican. If not, someone can vouch to party officials that a person should go on the Republican ballot.
Running against the Republican winner is Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, who is currently a Senator in the Tennessee General Assembly.
The primary election is on Aug. 4.
In response to their removal from the ballot, Starbuck and Ortagus both released statements Tuesday night.
"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," Ortagus said." 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."
While much shorter, Starbuck posted a video with one word: war.