After GOP jockey, Nashville House heads to primary | Fremont Tribune – Government and Politics
By JONATHAN MATTISE – Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republicans in Tennessee have spent months laying the groundwork to try to overturn Nashville’s representation in Congress, meticulously redrawing political boundaries and eliminating their slate of candidates. Now voters are finally getting involved.
GOP lawmakers divided the left-leaning city into political districts earlier this year, dividing its seat into three to help Republicans secure a seat. This new opportunity sparked infighting, leading party state leaders to exclude President Donald Trump’s preferred candidate and two others.
Republicans have plenty of options as the 5th congressional district heads into the Aug. 4 primary. Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper decided not to seek re-election, saying he couldn’t win any of the three new seats that split Nashville.
Among the nine Republican candidates are: Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles of Columbia; former State House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville; Retired Tennessee National Guard Brig. General Kurt Winstead of Franklin; Geni Batchelor, retired small business owner from Lebanon; and five others from Nashville: legislative staffer Tres Wittum; Jeff Beierlein, who served as a helicopter pilot in the military; Natisha Brooks, who runs a homeschool academy; Timothy Bruce Lee, paramedic; and Stewart Parks, a real estate businessman.
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The only Democratic candidate is State Senator Heidi Campbell of Nashville.
The GOP candidates hardly disagree on policy and instead present themselves as tough conservatives, Trump supporters and staunch opponents of President Joe Biden.
Winstead and Harwell shot television commercials at the US-Mexico border about immigration. Ogles posted a video saying, “Here’s what I think of Biden’s politics,” before firing a flamethrower into the air. He also highlighted his fight against COVID-19 mandates. Parks said during a debate that he cannot currently carry a gun because he was charged after entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising.
Each is looking to stand out enough to advance to November, likely to face Campbell in a six-county district that favored Trump over Biden in 2020 by 12 percentage points.
Ogles, Harwell and Winstead attracted the first attacks in television commercials by outside groups, an indication of what might be seen as their favorite status.
A PAC powered by the Club for Growth targets Harwell and Winstead. The ads criticized Harwell for supporting a state gasoline tax increase.
The PAC also criticized Harwell for winning the endorsement of the Tennessee Education Association in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary, when she finished 4th.
Harwell’s campaign responded that it “has eliminated state income tax, death tax, and reduced state sales tax twice,” saying it “has ended the common core and supports the state’s ban on critical race theory”.
The PAC blames Winstead for voting in the Democratic primaries in 2008 and before, and for donating more than $2,500 to Democratic campaigns a dozen or more years ago. His federal donations to Republicans exceed $36,000.
In a statement, Winstead said he never planned to run for Congress and was not as involved as he should have been before 2010, saying that changed due to administrations. Obama and Biden.
“In the military, we were taught the importance of owning up to our mistakes,” Winstead said. “Voting in the wrong primary and contributing to the wrong candidates certainly falls into this category.”
Meanwhile, a PAC fueled by Oracle executive chairman Larry Ellison attacked Ogles on several tax-related issues, including his support for a 2020 referendum that raised the local sales tax by 2.25. % to 2.75%, which he said dealt with budget issues. Recently, Ogles vetoed a property tax increase.
Harwell said she was not seeking the endorsement of Trump, who remained silent after his preferred candidate, Morgan Ortagus, was dropped from the ballot. Ortagus was a spokesperson for the US State Department under Trump.
Video producer Robby Starbuck received an endorsement from Senator Rand Paul.
Trump’s endorsement upset some Republicans, who criticized Ortagus for recently moving to Tennessee. State Sen. Frank Niceley, a Harwell supporter, later helped pass residency requirements for federal candidates, but election officials determined that could not apply retroactively.
The Tennessee Republican Party ultimately expelled Ortagus, Starbuck and small business owner Baxter Lee over complaints about their votes. Instead, Ortagus joined Winstead’s campaign as a national security adviser.
Starbuck sued and was briefly returned on the ballot, only to have the state Supreme Court overturn it. He presents himself as a written candidate.
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