Tennessee Congressional Hopeful Robby Starbuck Restored to Election Ballot After Suing GOP Over Removal

Tennessee Congressional Hopeful Robby Starbuck Restored to Election Ballot After Suing GOP Over Removal
Robby Starbuck on the set of "Candace" in Nashville, Tenn., on March 31, 2021. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts

Businessman Robby Starbuck has been restored to the Republican ballot for the upcoming midterm elections in Tennessee after a judge granted his request for a temporary injunction on Friday evening.

Davidson County Chancellor Russell Perkins ruled that the Tennessee Republican Party’s executive committee violated the state Open Meetings Act back in April when it removed Starbuck from the ballot for the Aug. 4 primary in the 5th Congressional District.

Starbuck, a filmmaker who has promoted Trump-era policies such as strong border enforcement, was removed from the upcoming election ballot by the state party during a closed meeting in which officials ruled that he and two other candidates, former Trump administration official Morgan Ortagus and businessman Baxter Lee, did not meet the qualifications to run under the party banner.

The businessman promptly sued Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden and two state officials on May 2 over the removal, but his request for an emergency injunction was denied by U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw in mid-May.

Yet Judge Perkins said on Friday that the 13–3 vote behind closed doors was a violation of state law and that Starbuck would suffer “irreparable harm if he were forced to remain off the ballot given that he was excluded from the ballot through a procedure that violates the law.”

This is because Starbuck would be required to run for the GOP position against “whomever the incumbent is the next time he is able to do so instead of being permitted to run for the currently vacant seat in 2022,” the judge noted.

“All other appropriate public officials are expected to immediately take steps to treat the Defendants’ April 11, 2022, decision as a nullity and restore Plaintiff, Robby Starbuck Newsom, also known as Robby Starbuck, to the ballot as a Republican candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the 5th Congressional District of Tennessee, to the same extent and in the same particulars as Plaintiff was on the ballot before Defendants’ April 11, 2022 decision was made and communicated,” Perkins wrote in his ruling on Friday.

Golden told The Tennessee Star on Saturday that the party will be filing an appeal against the latest decision.

“We’re disappointed with the judge’s ruling, obviously, and we’ll be filing an appeal on Monday,” said Golden.

The Epoch Times has contacted Golden for comment.

Starbuck, who used to live in California, has described himself as a conservative outsider.

In a lengthy statement issued on June 4 following the ruling, he said he was “speechless” at receiving “justice” in his case to prove that the executive committee acted illegally when it voted to remove him from the ballot.

“Judge Perkins has ordered that my name be restored to the ballot. I can’t thank the Judge enough for having a judicial compass that pointed him toward justice for the people in our case,” Starbuck wrote. “Today the underhanded, secret plot to remove the people’s choice in favor of controllable career politicians like Andy Ogles and Beth Harwell has failed. I’ll never forget the cowardly way folks like them supported this illegal action, and in doing so, supported disenfranchising our own voters.”

Friday’s ruling means that Starbuck will now join a host of other candidates in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District seat, including former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, and retired Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.
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