Former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus officially launched her bid for Congress on Monday after a glowing endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
Ortagus, 39, announced on Fox News that she is running as a Republican to represent Tennessee’s new Fifth District, a seat that is being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper.
“I have raised my hand and I have volunteered to join the military, to serve in the Trump administration, and I’m really excited to announce this morning that I am raising my hand to run for Congress in Tennessee District 5,” Ortagus told “Fox & Friends.”
“I’m the only Trump-endorsed candidate in this race — and I’m a conservative mom who’s going to fight for Tennessee values and for our voters here,” she added.
The mother of one was dubbed a “warrior” by Trump last month when he threw his support behind her after it emerged she was considering running for Congress.
“I am told the very strong and impressive Morgan Ortagus is exploring a run for Congress in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District,” Trump said in a statement at the time. “I couldn’t be happier because she’s an absolute warrior for America First and MAGA!”
Trump’s pre-emptive endorsement of Ortagus reportedly caused controversy within his circle. According to Politico, several allies of the 45th president urged him to back filmmaker Robby Starbuck in what is likely to be a bruising primary for a safe Republican seat in the Volunteer State’s new congressional map.
Starbuck, whose endorsers include Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), touted his Trump support on social media following the announcement by Ortagus, tweeting at one point: “If you don’t want someone who looked forward to ‘faithfully serving the Biden Administration’ representing TN5 then donate today so we aren’t stuck with another RINO who stabs Trump in the back.”
Starbuck was referring to a reported farewell email from Ortagus to her State Department colleagues the day before President Biden’s swearing-in, in which she purportedly wrote she would “put the career hat back on (or rather my Navy uniform!) and go in to faithfully serving the incoming Biden administration.”
Ortagus, an active US Naval Reserve Officer, said Monday she was joining the race in a bid to stop Democrats from “destroying all the good work” accomplished by the Trump administration.
She cited the ongoing illegal immigration crisis and rising inflation under Biden as among her reasons to run.
“The people of Tennessee are amazing. This is an incredibly exciting year to run for the House,” Ortagus told Fox News.
“I’m very confident that we’re going to take the House back in November … this is an opportunity for Republicans to pick up this seat, and I believe that I’m the woman for the job for Tennessee voters.”
Cooper, the third-longest-serving member of Congress, revealed last month he would not seek re-election — making him the 29th House Democrat to opt against contesting their seat this cycle.