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 Nashville’s Fifth District, Robby Starbuck, to the newsmakers line to discuss his motivation for running, an endorsement by Senator Rand Paul, and his upcoming Critical Race Theory event in Franklin on May 19.
Leahy: We are joined now by our very good friend, Robby Starbuck, who’s running for the GOP nomination in the Fifth Congressional District here in Tennessee. Good morning, Robby.
Starbuck: Good morning. How are you guys doing?
Leahy: We’re doing great. So you’re running for Congress. Tell us a little bit about what your theme is.
Starbuck: One of the primary goals for me is ensuring that we have a voice in Congress that pushes back against this Marxist movement on the left. I saw very clearly that this movement, the rise of the far left has a lot of parallels to what happened to my family in Cuba.
For those who don’t know, that’s where my family came from. And not enough good men and women stood up to the Marxists there and they lost their country and they lost their freedom. So that’s step one. Be a constant sort of antidote to the poison of Marxism that’s rising in the Democratic Party.
On the flip side of that, in terms of policy to be productive now, we want to bring some real change, like school choice to America. I think parents deserve to be able to have the money follow their child. We shouldn’t have a one size fits all system.
I think we’ve seen with all the craziness in public schools that that sort of indoctrination and leaving it to the government is not something that’s helping our kids. And parents are really unhappy about it.
Leahy: Where do people go on the web to find out about your campaign for Congress?
Starbuck: Right now, they can go to freedomforever.us. to sign up to volunteer. My full campaign site, Starbuck 2022 will launch in about two weeks. It’s pretty much done now, but we were waiting on a few things to get it completely solidified.
Leahy: Tell us a little bit about your own personal story, what your business background is, how long you’ve lived in Nashville, and your family situation.
Starbuck: Absolutely. I was first actually known as a producer, director, self-directed, and produced Oscar-winning actors, actresses, and some of the biggest music stars in the world. I think that that side of my life is actually a really nice fit for Nashville being Music City and having that industry experience.
I think it’s a nice fit. But in terms of my family, we’re one of those families where we weren’t lucky enough to be born in Tennessee. But we came as fast as we could. As soon as I came out as a Republican and burned down my career essentially to do what I’m doing now, we knew we were going to have to move.
California was not a fit. It was something that was really destructive for our kids. We didn’t want to raise them there. And Tennessee was the place we fell in love with. And my wife and I knew that that’s where we had wanted to go for a long time.
So it was about two and a half years ago now that we bought our farm here. And we’re just so excited about it. We love Tennessee. Our kids had never been happier.
Leahy: You have a farm. Tell us about your farm.
Starbuck: Oh, it’s fun. It’s fun. Actually, we thought we were going to build a barn and everything and do all this stuff, and we got there, and this is one of the things about Tennessee that’s so amazing is our neighbors have been so awesome that we didn’t even end up needing to build one.
Our daughter rides all the time at our neighbor’s house. They have a bunch of horses and we have so many animals next door that we don’t even need to. It’s been kind of amazing.
Leahy: How big is your farm and where is it?
Starbuck: It’s 12 acres and it’s right on the edge of the county line.
Leahy: It’s on the edge of the Davidson County line.
Starbuck: Yes. Right on the edge there. And that’s an interesting thing, too, is the district itself, and something we’ve gotten a lot of questions about is the fact that it is going to change. We’re on that 10-year mark, where they’re redistricting, and I think the district is going to end up looking different.
That’s sort of the weird thing is like you don’t know if you’re going to get drawn out of the district and if that were to happen, we kind of have to wait and see what happens.
Leahy: You currently within the limits of the Fifth Congressional District. But what you’re saying is you’re not sure in the redistricting whether or not you will be within.
Starbuck: Yes, but you can adjust them. It’s not one of those things.
Leahy: Well, I have some good news for you. I’m sure you’ve studied this. The Constitution simply requires for you to represent a congressional district in Tennessee and it requires that you are a resident of the state of Tennessee.
You don’t have to actually be a resident of the district itself. But generally, it’s considered good politically to reside within the district.
Starbuck: Absolutely. And it’s one of those things, too, where it’s smart because when redistricting happens, you can have somebody in the district and they put in all this work to run for the district, and they feel like they’re part of the district, and then they get drawn out of it.
So it’s a smart thing in that respect. But I’m excited to see what it looks like. I do think that we’re going to see a district that’s more representative of Tennessee as a whole and the values that I think most Tennessee have. And I’m excited about that because Cooper has been there way too long. 32 years now in Congress.
And one of my top questions I ask people is what has Cooper done to make your life better? How has he improved your life in any way? And I have yet to meet one person who could give me an answer to that question.
Leahy: Why will you be the best Republican candidate to defeat Jim Cooper in the November 2022 general election?
Starbuck: I think one of the real selling points is that I’ve been deeply involved in politics for a while. So having the connections that I have already to members of Congress and senators. Like yesterday, I was just endorsed by Rand Paul.
Leahy: Stop the presses! Stop the press! You just made some news. Tell us about that endorsement.
Starbuck: So we haven’t put it out yet. But we filmed it yesterday. Rand has been a big supporter of mine. And he’s given a full-throated endorsement and is very excited about our race. He’ll come down to Tennessee at some point to do some type of event with me.
Yes, that’s a big one because I think when people ask me, who are you going to be most similar to in terms of the way you approach our government or Constitution? I would say it’s Rand. Rand and Josh Hawley. That’s sort of the mold.
Leahy: Did we just break some news here? Is this the first public notice that you’ve been endorsed by Senator Rand Paul?
Starbuck: We did.
Leahy: That’s pretty big news.
Starbuck: Yes, I’m excited about that. I think it’s a real testament to where my values are. And somebody like Rand, he doesn’t do many endorsements at all. I don’t know very many that he’s done. He actually says that in the video, like that’s not something he does.
Leahy: So when is this video going to be up?
Starbuck: I think probably about a week.
Leahy: In a week. We can’t wait to see that. And when is your next event?
Starbuck: Critical Race Theory event. And it is actually coming up this following Wednesday in Franklin at the Factory. And it is with Moms of Liberty for rallying against Critical Race Theory in the Williamson County Schools.
Leahy: Is it this Saturday or next Saturday?
Starbuck: I’m sorry. It’s actually it’s Wednesday, May 19.
Leahy: Robby Starbuck, candidate for the GOP nomination for Congress in the Fifth Congressional District. Robbie, thanks for joining us. Come in the studio sometime.
Starbuck: Thank you. I will for sure. I want to.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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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.
Live from Music Row Monday 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 Republican candidate for Nashville’s fifth district Robby Starbuck to the newsmakers line to discuss his appearance at CPAC over the weekend, what motivated him to run for office, and his top priorities.
Leahy: We are joined by Robby Starbuck who gave a great speech at CPAC the other day and was very well received. Attacking big Tech in his Monopoly. He’s running for congress here in the fifth congressional district in Davidson County. Good morning, Robby.
Starbuck: Good morning Michael. How are you doing today? Thanks for having me.
Leahy: Well, happy birthday. Your birthday was over the weekend and you announced for Congress and gave a ten-minute speech that was very well received at CPAC. How did that come about?
Starbuck: Well, that’s actually you know, that’s an interesting question. It’s a long line, like anything good in life a lot of good people telling good people, hey, you should meet this person and you should meet this person. I mean that’s kind of the nature of life. So eventually it got to the people who run CPAC. And they reached out to me or like hey, we’ve been told that you’re doing great things and we looked you up. We saw what you had to say. We watched some of your other speeches and we would love to have you. And it was really that simple.
Leahy: You’re a director and producer known for your cinematic style that you’ve brought to the music video genres. You’ve directed a number of Hollywood stars like Natalie Portman, Jamie Foxx, Brad Pitt, Megan Fox, and Josh Duhamel.
Starbuck: That’s right.
Leahy: You have quite a background there. What happened when you said you were a Republican back in 2015?
Starbuck: I don’t think there’s anything worse you can say in Hollywood than admitting you are a Republican. So it didn’t go. You go from being invited to all the parties and all that stuff, which I never went to anyways and never liked. I was never one of those people. But you’re invited to everything and everybody loves you and blah blah blah and you come out and say you’re a Republican and it’s like telling them you’re a leper and you want to touch them. (Leahy chuckles)
It’s the worst possible thing you could do. But I would do it over and over again And I said that in the CPAC speech that I would do it over and over again despite the loss of business and the way my kids were treated and all that. Freedom runs in my DNA from my family coming here from Cuba. I will always be eternally grateful to America because I would not be alive if it were not for the existence of America.
So every chance I get to stand up for freedom I will take it and I will do it. And I saw the signs many years ago that what happened in Cuba could happen here. And when it got to that boiling point where I knew I had to make a decision about whether to keep my career or to speak up, it was a very easy decision for me. One because of what happened in my family. Leftism stole everything from them in Cuba. And I mean literally everything.
But secondarily because I know that if I didn’t do anything one day when I go to heaven my grandma would be waiting there with a shoe and she’d be smacking me with it for the rest of eternity. And she would rather me take that beautiful experience and have turned it into help for me hitting me with that shoe if I didn’t do something now. So it was a very clear decision that I had to do something.
Leahy: When did you formally announce your candidacy for the Republican nomination in the fifth congressional district here in Nashville?
Starbuck: Well, I first actually did it after the election in November because I was so upset about how things were running. And sort of how some of the establishment were defending the ideals that I hold, which when I say defending, I mean they were not defending it. And so I felt like I’ve got to stand up and do something. And I also saw a great opportunity to get rid of one of the Cooper’s because I don’t know that I have met very many people in Nashville who care for the Coopers. And I think that is the best opportunity there’s ever been to get one of them out of office.
Leahy: Now, do you have a campaign website?
Starbuck: For now people can go to FreedomForever.us. People who live here for have lived here for a long time will know that we have to redistrict this year. And so there’s a minute possibility the district name or number rather changes. So we’re waiting another week or two before we do the filing where we’ll start fundraising doing all that stuff. But you can sign up at FreedomForever.us right now to sign up to volunteer.
We’re also going to help other candidates who don’t have as much of a national platform that are great candidates because I think one of the problems we have in America as you know, we’ve seen some of these people who are just there in there for 20 terms and they’re not doing anything. All they’ve done is rename a post office in the 20 years they’ve been there or 40 years whatever it is.
And we need real fighters for America and fighters for freedom. So I’m going to do everything I can to help other candidates that really have sort of the more American agenda that we can help with. And if I can use that platform to help others I will. FreedomForever.us is the best place for us to do that.
Leahy: FreedomForever.us. Now tell us about the redistricting you anticipate for I haven’t seen a lot that says that the fifth district will be that much different in the 2022 election than it is in 2020. Do you have any indication that will be significantly different?
Starbuck: I think that it will be. I do. I think people are going to be surprised. I do think that they will re-district the fifth and we have the room to do it. If you go back a decade ago and you take a look at a lot of the redistricting plans there were you can look and see that those outer districts if you go back when you say hey, what would have happened in these elections had we done it 10 years ago? We would have won every one of those districts by significant margins and we would have won the Nashville district five and done so easily.
I think it’s a no-brainer and I think a lot of people in the legislature understand that. But it’s a no-brainer to better represent the will of citizens here in Tennessee. And if you look at a state like Tennessee you look the way we vote and you go around anywhere it’s insane that we have two people in Congress who are Democrats in the state of Tennessee. Not just Democrats, but they’re voting you know with the far left many times. The very far left. We’re not talking about the blue dog Democrats of 20 years ago. It’s a very different party now.
Leahy: If elected, what would be your first top priority?
Starbuck: My top priority not just when I’m first elected, but for the entire time would be to protect and expand freedom. And that’s the lens I’m going to look at everything through. Am I protecting freedom and my expanding it and I’m making life better for people? If things are not making life better or easier for people in this district and it’s not expanding and protecting freedoms that they have here, then it’s not something that I’m going to throw my weight behind. But those are the very simple things and I’m going to look through the lens of when I’m looking at policy.
Leahy: Your speech was about pushing back against Big Tech. What specific legislation in Congress would you support to push back against Big Tech?
Starbuck: So I support Josh Hawley’s model. I want to break up Big Tech. You look at the effect it had on small businesses. Let’s take Amazon for instance. We used to do this as Republicans. We used to trust-bust. And these companies like Amazon, they’ve destroyed small businesses. So many small business owners have lost their businesses lost their way of life because Amazon was allowed to play really dirty games with how they grew their company.
They did it in a way where their business model was essentially to lose money in order to choke out small businesses until they had such a large market share that they couldn’t be beat anymore. And so we need to look at those companies through that lens. And then on top of that there’s just the freedom of expression issue. Social media has turned into the public square and we need to treat it that way.
And people whether they are a Republican, Democrat, Socialist, or a Communist I believe you have the right to your voice in the public square. And I think we have seen far too much censorship. We’re seeing now with the Amazon they cancel conservative books even. And you have the majority of books sold on Amazon. All of these companies, social media companies, and big tech companies as a whole largely need to be broken up. And the few that do not need to be broken up do need some regulations in place that make it very clear that they cannot discriminate against people for their political beliefs.
Leahy: Do you support or oppose the revocation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the Communications Act of 1996, which provides litigation liability against censorship efforts by Facebook, Google Twitter, and that crowd?
Starbuck: Yeah, so the truth is the best way to handle 230, for now, is to rewrite it. We need to rewrite it, but it can’t be entirely cooled because what will happen then is and I think for a lot of people this hasn’t been explained fully, but what would happen if we pull 230 entirely? And we just got rid of it with nothing in its place? Then social media companies would not allow you to post immediately.
So if there were some big event happening today and you wanted to post about it and you said oh I saw this great speech today blah blah blah you would submit it and Twitter would have to hold that Tweet and have it reviewed by legal to ensure that it was not something that they saw as a legal issue. And so I don’t think that that is something Americans want to deal with when you’d have to wait a week for your posts to be approved. So I think revising it and making it very clear is the path forward.
Leahy: Robby Starbuck director and candidate for Congress in the fifth congressional district for the Republican nomination. Will you come in studio and talk more with us in the future?
Starbuck: Absolutely. Absolutely. I would have done it today. If it was just this was so tight coming back.
Leahy: We got you on that one, Robby. Thanks so much for joining us. Have a great day. We look forward to seeing you in the studio.
Listen to the second hour here:
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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.