With Trump's backing, Ortagus muscles into Tennessee GOP congressional primary

Trump pre-endorsement follows early MAGA support for GOP candidate Robby Starbuck, rankles conservative influencer Candace Owens

Updated: February 7, 2022 - 5:17pm

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Former Trump State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus on Monday officially announced her campaign to compete this election cycle for the seat representing Tennessee's Fifth Congressional District. 

The expected announcement follows a pre-endorsement from former President Trump two weeks ago.

Trump's backing of Ortagus drew criticism from some staunch supporters who questioned why he passed on GOP candidate Robby Starbuck, an America First filmmaker who announced his candidacy last June.

Starbuck fast earned the endorsements of Sen. Rand Paul and some of the MAGA movement's most vociferous fighters, including Reps. Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Trump called Ortagus a "warrior" for the America First agenda, which Ortagus touted in the video announcing her bid. 

On the Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" show Monday morning, Ortagus said, "The people of Tennessee are amazing. This is an increasingly exciting year to run for the House. I’m very confident that we’re going to take the House back in November."

Tennessee's newly redrawn fifth district leans heavily red after, now that mostly all of blue Nashville has been split into three congressional districts, based on the last census count. Retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper leaves open a seat that Republicans are expected to win.

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