Tennessee congressional candidate Starbuck asks court to thwart removal from GOP primary ballot

Starbuck filed for an injunction to be placed back on the Aug. 4 Republican primary ballot after being removed by state GOP.

Updated: June 2, 2022 - 11:42pm

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Robby Starbuck again fought to get on the primary ballot for Tennessee's 5th Congressional District in a hearing Thursday in Davidson County Chancery Court.

Starbuck filed for an injunction to be placed back on the Aug. 4 Republican primary ballot after being removed by Tennessee's Republican Party. He previously had a request for an injunction denied in United States District Court.

On Thursday, lead attorney Eric Osborne of Nashville's Sherrard, Roe, Voigt and Harbison argued Starbuck's case in front of Chancellor Russell T. Perkins.

"At the end of today's hearing, Chancellor Perkins said he would issue his order (Friday)," Osborne said. "So based on what he said, yes I would expect that he will either issue the injunction or deny the injunction (Friday)."

Starbuck was removed from the ballot through a 13-3 vote from Tennessee's Republican committee based upon his Tennessee Republican bona fides, including that he had not voted in three of the past four Tennessee Republican primaries. Trump-backed Morgan Ortagus and Baxter Lee were also removed from the ballot on the same day.

"Today's a big day for our campaign," Starbuck tweeted Thursday morning. "Our case to have my name put back on the ballot will be heard by a Judge. Thousands of you have given us your support & love in this fight and it's powering us through. Pray God's will & Justice is done. We're on the right side of history!"

"The court filled with our supporters was a beautiful sight," he Tweeted later. "The Judge advised that we'll have a decision tomorrow so stay tuned!"

In mid-May, U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw denied Starbuck's request for an emergency injunction on all of Starbuck's claims and instead sent the lawsuit to a magistrate judge.

Starbuck had filed the case against Tennessee GOP chair Scott Golden, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins.

In his ruling, Crenshaw said that there was question whether Golden was a state actor in his position as GOP chair. He also said that the court was not in charge of the GOP's executive committee following its own rules on the vote to remove Starbuck and the others from the ballot and said that a new state law limiting which candidates could run for the position was irrelevant after Hargett said it could not be enforced because it became law after the candidate filing date.

That law is subject to a separate suit, which Crenshaw cited, on behalf of Ortagus in front of Judge Eli Richardson.