Robby Starbuck didn’t vote in the 2020 presidential election, people gave their lives for the right to vote, and we want candidates who appreciate that, Scott Golden, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party said on the Todd Starnes Show.
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The following is a rush transcript from The Todd Starnes Radio Show. Listen to the program live Monday – Friday from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m. Click here to listen to the full interview.
TODD STARNES: [00:29:47] Scott Golden, good to have you with us – certainly making national news here. Why don’t you tell us why the GOP made the decision to remove those three candidates? [00:29:57][10.2]
SCOTT GOLDEN: [00:29:59] Yeah, I’ll let you know, tis the season. The ballot gets set tomorrow for state and federal, except for the state Senate. So, if anybody’s curious, you can certainly go to our website at tngop.org and click under the about section, and you can read our bylaws. Our bylaws are there for all to see. It’s been that way for 30 years now, but we have standards. There are two things that the Republican Party wants out of our candidates. One, we want you to participate with us, and the other one is, is that we want you to vote. Oddly enough, you’re signing up for a job that you want to run and vote for. So that’s one of the qualifications that we’d like to see. Tennessee is not a party registration state. So, we have no idea who the Republicans are. The only way we can tell is by how often you vote. So our standard that we set five years ago is that we wanted qualified candidates to have voted in three out of the last four statewide elections. So for those of us in Memphis, it was the U.S. Senate race, the governor’s race, the congressional race and, of course, the presidency that was on the ballot March of 2020. So those are the four elections that we’re talking about. We want you to have voted in three of them. And of course, there is a provision that if you have, for whatever reason, not voted in those that the board, the board of the Republican Party would consider exceptions. And, you know, ultimately last night we had a committee of the people that oversee the 5th Congressional District say that we don’t think that these candidates have met the standards and we are not going to let them run. [00:31:48][108.8]
STARNES: [00:31:48] Now, Scott, how long has that rule been on the books? [00:31:51][3.0]
GOLDEN: [00:31:53] So the Tennessee Republican Party bylaws were written in 1993. At that time, it was two out of four. But we kind of had a myriad of elections in there, and in 2017 it went to three out of four for the statewide elections. So for example, those of you that live in Shelby County, some of these elections that your leadership may be decided in the Democrat primary. As you know, the history of Tennessee is that, of course, this was a strongly Democrat state up until 10, 15 years ago. So there were still local primaries where all the elections were decided. So we said, look, let’s just move that to the statewide. So these are governor, congressman, president, senators, state reps and state senators that we wanted to see that you vote in. So that was changed in 2017. Feel free to Google it. It was a statewide story when we did it. We wanted to present better candidates to the voters that you know, had met a higher standard as we have become a Republican Party state. [00:33:03][70.2]
STARNES: [00:33:04] Now let me jump in here because Robby Starbuck is coming out with guns blazing. I want to read what he wrote and I want you to respond to it. “Sadly, in Tennessee, candidates are not elected. They’re selected by a tiny group of establishment RINO hacks. We will fight this with every ounce of fight we have. They declared war on Tennessee voters yesterday. It’s not about me, it’s about you, and I’ll fight for your right to vote.” How do you respond to that, Scott? [00:33:27][23.7]
GOLDEN: [00:33:30] Well, I mean, look, at the end of the day, I know the committee gave Mr. Starbuck credit for voting in California for the two elections. And then, you know, ultimately what put him is that he did not vote in the Trump presidential election in March of 2020, and he didn’t vote in the US Senate election in August of 2020. Had he voted in any one of those and, you know, in Tennessee, we actually make it pretty simple to vote. You can vote by mail. We’ve got 15 days of early voting. Election offices are open all the time. We want people to go vote. People have sacrificed their lives so that people can take the opportunity to vote. So when you have the opportunity to vote and you don’t take advantage of it and then you complain. You know, our people made the decision last night and it was an overwhelming vote. These are all volunteers. They don’t get paid a dime for sitting on the board. In fact, it costs them money to do so. And by the way, the standard that they have to meet is never missing an election. That’s the standard that it takes to get on the board. So you’ve got people that are doing this for the good of the country, doing it for the good of the Republican Party. And every time the vote is open, they’re there to cast the vote to make sure that this democracy works. I understand his frustration. But at the end of the day, he didn’t vote. [00:34:55][84.9]
STARNES: [00:34:56] And that’s on him. And I’m just going to say this, you didn’t ask me to defend you. But Scott, I know you, you’re not an establishment RINO hack. And I would say that most of the Tennesseans in the Republican Party are not establishment RINO hacks, either. They’re good, rock solid conservatives. And I find it offensive that somebody comes into our state and says something like this. You know, my question is, OK, what other rules do they want us to change on their behalf? [00:35:22][25.7]
GOLDEN: [00:35:24] I mean, look, and this is going to be the norm. Look, we’re a Republican state. We’re very red and we’re getting redder. I’m really excited and I’m excited about the opportunities with Shelby County this year. And by the way, all the Republicans that are running, they’ve met this standard. They’ve gone out and participated both in time and effort and in voting. And so, you know, this is what the Tennessee Republican Party owes our voters is to say, look, this is somebody that has made the effort and they will make a good legislator should you, you know, feel free to elect them. But yeah, and I will say this as far as the RINO, you know, the people that sat on the committee that made the decision, 85 percent of them were Trump delegates, well, certainly for 2020, and another 50 percent of them were delegates for Trump in 2016. So I mean, these were the people that were offering themselves to go to Cleveland that would go to Charlotte had we been allowed to have a convention, they all signed up and said, we want President Trump to be the president. So I mean, these aren’t the type of people that anybody would accuse of being RINOS. I mean, they have been party stalwarts and they have stepped up for the Republican Party each and every time. [00:36:41][77.2]
STARNES: [00:36:42] Alright, Scott, we’re going to leave it there. And of course, Ortagus, the conservative media is using and there were two sides here. There was MAGA world and the Trump candidate who was Morgan Ortagus. And they’re accusing you guys of going after President Trump here, and I will give you about 30 seconds to respond to that. [00:37:02][20.6]
GOLDEN: [00:37:03] Yeah. Again, I mean, everybody that made the decision, most of the people that made the decision were Trump delegates in 2020. You know, I think this decision had nothing to do with the president whatsoever. This was a case of we look at the standards, unlike the Democrat side. And you guys know in Shelby County that the Democrats removed John Deberry two years ago, because he didn’t think like they did. [00:37:32][28.1]
STARNES: [00:37:32] And yeah, let me jump in.You know, being a national show, folks don’t know John DeBerry, but we can fill folks in on that later. Scott, we’re going to have to run. We are super late for a break. Scott Golden, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, weighing in on what has now become a national controversy. [00:37:50][17.7]