Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional GOP Candidate Robby Starbuck Talks Redistricting and High-Profile Endorsements
Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed GOP candidate for Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District Robby Starbuck to the newsmaker line to discuss the latest gossip on aiding his friend North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn and his high-profile and local endorsements.
Leahy: We’re joined on our newsmaker line now by our friend Robby Starbuck. Robby has announced back in August that he’s a candidate for the Fifth Congressional District here in Tennessee. Turns out that’s interesting because no one knows exactly what the Fifth Congressional District will look like yet. Good morning, Robby. How are you?
Starbuck: I’m doing well, how are you doing, sir?
Leahy: Good. So just for our listening audience, give our listeners a little reminder of your background and where you live now and what you’re doing.
Starbuck: Absolutely. So background-wise. What’s inspired me to do this is my family lost everything in Cuba, and I love this country so much. It’s given me so much. I was able to go to the top of my career in Hollywood, directing Oscar-winning actors, also some of the country music stars.
But my heart is in the south and my wife’s from the south. And this is where we raise our kids. And I want us to have the representation that Tennessee deserves. The conservative values that I know we have here. And Jim Cooper just doesn’t do that for us.
And he hasn’t done that. He’s bent his knee to The Squad and to the left on every turn recently. And so we deserve to have a representative who’s going to stand up for the conservative values that make this country great.
I came out in 2015 and endorsed President Trump and burned down my career in Hollywood. And that was sort of the beginning of this journey for us. And we’ve been blessed to have the support of people like Senator Rand Paul, Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk, and President Trump’s Director of National Intelligence Rick Grennell who is now the head of the president’s PAC for 2022.
So we’re very excited about this race because this district is changing, as you mentioned, and we expect the district to become much more conservative as a result of redistricting. And that’s going to give us the opportunity to win the majority with this seat.
Which is going to give a lot of power to Middle Tennessee voters. And it’s going to give a lot of power to us to do great things for the state of Tennessee. And not just the state of Tennessee, but for the country. Reinvigorate this country with the freedom that makes our country great.
Leahy: When will we know what the boundaries of the Fifth Congressional District will be?
Starbuck: That’s interesting this Friday, actually, they’re having a meeting with the committee on redistricting, and they’re supposed to release some maps during that.
Leahy: Those are just maps for the state House of Representatives, not for Congress, right?
Starbuck: Yes. Exactly. That’s for state House Representatives. And then they’re going to release another round of maps later in the month. And then in early January, this district will be finalized. I’m just trying to give people a little info on the entire process because your state House seats are going to be changing, too.
Everything should be finalized in January in terms of what it should look like. Based on the math of Middle Tennessee and the growth that’s happened, there’s sort of limited options in terms of what will be possible as long as you keep every other seat safe in the state of Tennessee.
And you just kind of follow the math. And when you follow the math and our own modeling, we see this seat being turned into a firm Republican seat.
Leahy: Once it comes out as finalized there will be court challenges and after that’s all done will you have to evaluate whether or not you’ll proceed with your candidacy depending upon the shape of the district or are you all in regardless?
Starbuck: No. We are all in period. And I think Jim Cooper understands actually, this district is changing. He’s been on a media tour recently to CNN. He just wrote an opinion in The Tennesseean and essentially begged Tennessee’s legislature to not take this seat because he knows the math.
And he admits, actually, I thought this is very interesting, in The Tennesseean piece that he has no recourse to stop this because he knows the math. He knows that they have every single legal responsibility to do this.
And so it really gives him no legal recourse. And the Democrat’s top lawyer who generally attacks redistricting cases his name is Mark Elias has a list of all the states he’s going to sue. Tennessee is not on that list and that’s because we have a very clear law in terms of how we approach this.
And the math is so simple. Honestly, this should have been done 10 years ago where they redistricted it to make it a conservative seat because we had the room to do it 10 years ago. But there was, I guess, a lot of nervousness then, and that nervousness should not exist.
Our state has gotten much more conservative. And sort of paradoxically, something that people don’t always realize is some of that growth we’ve had from blue states is a lot of conservative people fleeing here.
And these are people who want to make sure that the state of Tennessee doesn’t turn into California and it doesn’t turn into New York. They love this state and they want to keep the conservative values.
So those people are helping to make that possible and that we’re able to flip this. Hopefully, at the end of this, we’ll only have one Democrat seat left down in Memphis.
Leahy: Right now, the congressional delegation, seven Republicans, two Democrats. Jim Cooper and Steve Cohen are down in Memphis. What you’re suggesting is redistricting could turn it into eight Republican seats and one Democrat. Let me go to this question for you.
I saw your name in the news. We’ve not had a chance to talk about this, but I saw a report. I think it was last week that current congressman, I think it’s Madison Cawthorn, the young kid from North Carolina that replaced Mark Meadows in Congress. Very conservative, a Freedom Caucus guy.
I saw a report that he brought you onto the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. He got in a little procedural trouble for that. Was that true? Did you go on the floor of the House and how did that come about?
Starbuck: I was on the floor of the House, but, yes, the story is really taken out of context. They made it sound like he snuck me in and that was not the case. (Leahy laughs) Madison, as many know, is disabled. He’s in a wheelchair.
According to the ADA, he has the ability to have an aide that is able to help him. And he needed help. I’m his friend. I’m not just somebody running for Congress. And as his friend, he asked me if I could act as his aide and help him with his chair.
And that was something I think any friend would do. And I was honored to be there. I didn’t cause a ruckus in there or anything. I mean, I helped Madison. That was about that.
Leahy: The press reports claimed that the reason you got in is that you falsely claimed or that he falsely claimed that you were a staff member. That’s what the press reports were, right?
Starbuck: Yes. I think it was entirely dishonest. And I would love to figure out who exactly made that the story. But Madison is a great guy, and I think North Carolina is really lucky to have him, and we would never do anything like that.
They try to frame everything like it’s an insurrection. I actually saw somebody afterward from the left, and they’re one of those conspiracy accounts, and they say, oh, Madison and Robby, this is a dry run for a terror attack. And I’m like, are you serious?
Leahy: Are you kidding me?
Starbuck: They’ve lost their minds.
Leahy: It sounds like it was just like a normal thing, right? He probably always needs somebody to help him because he’s disabled in a wheelchair to help him get on the floor. And on that day, he asked you, his friend to do it. It’s no big deal. It seems to me.
Starbuck: It really wasn’t. To be honest with you. Neither of us even thought twice about it. It was like a very normal thing. And if you’ve ever looked at the House floor, it’s very steep. And there’s a portion of it that actually is not the easiest to get the chair through.
It’s really tight, and it’s steep. And I’m sure they have video from the House where you can see I was pushing his chair up, that steep part of it. So it’s just odd honestly. I found the story really odd, and we were like, you know what?
This is one of those stories. The media will make anything up. And there are other people, too, who have their own sort of motivations around why they want to do it. I was talking to somebody recently.
I was like, honestly, we should just throw this back at them and say, do you have a problem with disabled people being able to have an aide?
Leahy: Complying with the Americans Disability Act, right? Hey, tell me briefly. So you’ve racked up a whole series of high-profile endorsements. Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk, and Rick Grenell. Ric Grenell, what a great guy he is. How did you secure Ric Grenell’s endorsement?
Starbuck: Ric and I have talked for a long time throughout Trump’s administration, and I think that he understands that my instincts are really strong and that I am the type of person who’s going to go on offense.
He definitely understands that our country cannot withstand another generation of leaders who want to be on defense. It’s how we’ve lost every segment of our culture. We’ve lost academia, we’ve lost the media, we’ve lost entertainment, and we’ve done it by sitting around, playing defense.
We need people who are on offense. And my ideas and everything along the way had crossed Trump’s administration and it made an impression on him. And I think it was something where when he found out I was going to do this, he said, I’m all in. Let’s go for this. You’re going to win this.
Leahy: You’ve got a lot of high-profile national endorsements. You’ve lived here just what, a couple of years? Two years. Three years.
Leahy: Four years now?
Starbuck: Almost four.
Leahy: So what level of local endorsement have you received?
Starbuck: Yes. Senator Bowling. She has endorsed us. That’s actually one that I have not said before. That just happened recently.
Leahy: Are you breaking some news here on our show?
Starbuck: I’m breaking a little bit of news. Ralph Norman, who is a Freedom Caucus member, he’s a member of Congress. He’s from South Carolina. He just endorsed us as well. That’s also breaking news. So those are great ones we’re really excited to have.
And we’ve been really supported. A lot of the groups here in Middle Tennessee are patriot groups, and I feel like those are really the types of groups who matter in elections in a national sense, and even locally, a lot of people may not know their names, but these groups that are people meeting at their houses, and it’s 40, 50 people.
These are the groups that win elections. They’re the doorknockers. They’re the phone callers. They’re the people who are rabid about us winning this country back and having a majority and actually fighting for America’s first values. Not the old establishment values, but really this American first movement. And I think we get that.
Leahy: Robby Starbuck, candidate for Congress. Thanks so much for joining. Come on in person again, if you would please.
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Robby Starbuck” by Robby Starbuck.