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TN Legislature Passes New Candidate Residency Requirement—And Trump-Backed Candidate Might Be Screwed

TN Legislature Passes New Candidate Residency Requirement—And Trump-Backed Candidate Might Be Screwed
Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

A candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump may find herself ineligible to run for a U.S. congressional seat in Tennessee's 5th Congressional District.

Morgan Ortagus served in the Trump administration as a staffer for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. After Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper announced his retirement, Ortagus soon launched her House campaign in the district, which is now competitive after Republican redistricting in the state. In a glowing endorsement, Trump praised her as "an absolute warrior for America First and MAGA!"

But it wasn't until recently that Ortagus was even a resident of Tennessee, she has no political track record and very little name recognition in the state, and her candidacy soon prompted backlash from Tennessee Republicans.

Now, both chambers of the Tennessee legislature have passed a bill imposing a requirement that congressional candidates be residents for at least three years of the district they're seeking to represent.

If the bill is signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Ortagus's candidacy is effectively finished.

Ortagus previously said in an op-ed for the Tennessean:

“Whatever the outcome of this bill, I will continue to fight for my country, my state, and my community in any way that I can.”

In an effort to save her congressional bid, a fledgling political action committee—the Tennessee Conservatives PAC—vowed to contest the constitutionality of the potential law on behalf of the 5th District's voters, according to Tennessee Lookout.

These developments have Republicans in disarray.

Some are speaking out against the bill.


Others were more supportive.

The state's primary will be held on August 4.