Leahy: All-star panelist Roger Simon with us. Roger, I want to elaborate on appointment made towards the end of that last segment.
And it’s about the Secretary of State, Tre Hargett’s statement issued by his his office yesterday afternoon about an hour after we reported that the three-year residency bill to be on a primary ballot in the U.S. House of Representatives had become law.
I’m going to read exactly what their statement was. And, Tre Hargett, I hope you’re listening because I am stating here right now that you have incorrectly made a statement after this law, and I’m challenging you, Tre Hargett, to come in to this program and defend your statement, which I am saying is factually incorrect.
Here we go. The first is a two-sentence statement. “The bill was not signed into law before the April 7th filing deadline.” That’s a true statement. “April 7th is the filing deadline.” This is not a true statement.
And this came from Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office. The requirement does not apply retroactively to candidates who met the qualification deadline at noon on April 7th. This is where the Secretary of State’s office, I think, knowingly made an incorrect statement because April 7th is not the qualification deadline.
The qualification deadline is April 21st, according to the statute. April 7th is the deadline for candidates who seek to be qualified to apply for their petitions. And the Secretary of State has two steps in the process.
First, the Secretary of State has to review all the signatures on the petition. They usually take 48 hours or so, and then they determine if those actually meet those petition filing standards.
Simon: I want to add to this that this has been known for some time, even to us newcomers in Tennessee, via your show and other things. We’ve known this. So therefore, why was it not known by the Secretary of State’s office?
Leahy: I think it was known.
Simon: Exactly. Obviously, it was known. Then the next question Sherlock would ask is, why this word salad?
Leahy: The word salad is basically so that, we talked about this before, so that Associated Press would take the statement and go with a headline claiming that the Secretary of State, with that statement, was saying that Morgan Ortagus is on the ballot.
Simon: Then the next thing that would happen is this would be accepted as the truth, and everybody would roll over.
Leahy: Yes. Now, we asked the Secretary of State some pointed questions. On February 18th, we asked the Secretary of State’s office, if the legislation currently pending before the General Assembly, passed and affected a candidate’s eligibility for the August primaries, what could the latest date for finalizing the ballot be?
Translation: What’s the qualifying deadline? Here was their answer on February 22nd. “If the legislation passes, whether it will affect the candidates for the August 4th, 2022 primary election depends on the enacting date chosen by the General Assembly. The April 21st, 2022 date to finalize the ballot will not be affected.”
The effective date was April 13th. The finalizing the ballot date is April 21st. So that is the statute. The qualifying deadline is April 21st, and the petition filing deadline – and Frank Niceley told us the same exact thing about this, and by the way, State Senator Frank Niceley told us the following: ‘Robby Starbuck and Morgan Ortagus were off the Republican primary ballot as soon as their bona fides were challenged before the Tennessee GOP by bona fide Republicans in the 5th district.
Those challenges were made well before the April 7th petition filing deadline. In addition, meeting that filing deadline does not mean you’re a qualified candidate. Let me repeat that. Meeting the filing deadline of April 7th does not mean you’re a qualified candidate.
The SEC members would need to vote to put them back on the ballot in order for them to be qualified. The Secretary of State and the governor have no control over what the SEC votes do. And by the bylaws, they have been removed from the ballot. They have an opportunity to be restored. (Simon laughs)
Simon: Bylaws are made to be broken, like most laws, unfortunately, and bylaws more easily than most. This is, I think, a teaching moment for all of us who are interested in politics, which means everybody, theoretically, because it’s going to affect you down the line.
Although in this instance, I will put a little asterisk on it. And here’s my asterisk. I don’t think the most significant thing in the world is who is going to be winning the Republican nomination for the 5th district.
I think my bet is that that person will win the election, and that person is not going to vote very differently one from the other, except for this guy Winstead, whose wife is a lobbyist for the Democrats.
Leahy: Yes. Kurt’s been on the program. We’ve talked to Kurt.
Simon: Did you ask about his wife’s lobbying activities?
Leahy: No. We’ll ask him that the next time he’s in.
Simon: That’s probably the most significant thing you can ask about.
Leahy: Got you. But you said who wins this primary is not the most significant thing to ask. What is the most significant thing to ask?
Simon: Whether the rule of law will be followed.
Leahy: There you go. Let’s talk about the rule of law. Whether or not the rule of law will be followed. To me, I look at this and the Secretary of State here, Tre Hargett, who, by the way, is hired by the Tennessee General Assembly.
Simon: Error. That is not a good thing.
Leahy: You’re not changing it. It’s in the Tennessee Constitution.
Simon: I know it is.
Leahy: You will not change it.
Simon: There are a couple of things in this constitution people should look at.
Leahy: I understand all these arguments. For instance, direct election of attorney general never going to happen here for any number of reasons. But I would agree with that. But the point is we have a Secretary of State, Tre Hargett, who, in essence, is saying …
Simon: He’s not responsible to the voters.
Leahy: No, even more. He’s saying that he apparently does not intend to enforce the law as passed by the Tennessee General Assembly. That’s what it looks like to me.
Tre Hargett, by the way, you are welcome to come in the program and defend yourself. But right now the statements from your office are confusing at best and conflicting at worst and disingenuous, perhaps, is maybe an even more accurate way to put it.
Simon: I’m not arguing with any of that. I think you’re right. But when you come back to the semi-defeatist statement that you made about not changing any of these Tennessee regulations, I think we should start thinking about that. The Secretary of State should be responsible to the voters. It’s a pretty big job.
Live from Music Row Thursday morning onThe 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 all-star panelist and The Epoch Times’ editor-at-large Roger Simon in-studio to discuss the status of the Tennessee state three-year residency bill and the AP‘s false interpretation of where it stands.
Leahy: We are joined in-studio by a good friend, all-star panelist, my former boss at PJTV, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, and senior editor-at-large for The Epoch Times – and I forgot, mystery novelist, author, Roger Simon. Good morning, Roger.
Simon: Good morning. I actually got up early this morning because I knew there was big news in Tennessee.
Leahy: So here’s the news I’d like to get your comment on. First, yesterday afternoon we broke the story that the three-year residency bill to be a candidate on the ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives for the primary ballot was enacted into law, because Governor Lee sent, unsigned, the law back to the Tennessee Secretary Senate clerk.
Simon: Why did he do it that way? We should get into that.
Leahy: We’ll get into that in just a minute, and then literally within one hour, the Tennessee Secretary of State, this is our lead story at The Tennessee Star.
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett – Tre, I’m talking to you – offered conflicting comments on whether he will enforce the residency law and remove carpetbaggers Morgan Ortagus and, most likely, Robby Starbuck from the Tennessee 5th Congressional District GOP primary ballot.
Roger, the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, had a spokesperson tell the Associated Press this after we reported that the law was in effect because 10 days had passed and he hadn’t signed it and they hadn’t vetoed it. This sounds eerily like, oh, I don’t know, a statement that was made by Morgan Ortagus’s campaign recently.
Simon: I thought you were going to say Kamala Harris.
Leahy: Yeah, either one. I can’t tell the difference these days. ‘We feel the voters are best able to determine who should represent them in Congress.
Well, Governor Lee, if you had the courage of your conviction, you would have vetoed the bill. But why didn’t you veto the bill? Because it would have been overridden easily.
Simon: Easily. But there’s another thing, everything is going on below the surface here. This is a kind of dirty politics as practiced in Tennessee, but also in New York and California. And regrettably, virtually every other state, maybe save Florida, because they have a governor with a spine.
Leahy: I think you’re going to say something else. The spine is good, though. Get the point across. (Laughter)
Simon: Thank you. It’s a family show.
Leahy: It’s interesting that the AP quickly jumped into the fray to tell us this law was invalid when, of course, it’s premature in the extreme. But the AP, I will say to everyone out there, do not think of it as an even-handed institution. It is quite in the hands of the liberals.
Leahy: It’s far-left.
Simon: And it’s gotten worse and worse over the last few years.
Leahy: And the Secretary of State’s office issued a confusing statement that conflicted with their previous comments right after we broke the story.
The AP jumped off that statement. I’ll read the statement. The first statement, again, they issued a subsequent statement that conflicted with the first statement.
Simon: Like Kamala Harris?
Leahy: There you go. They said, “The bill was not signed into law before the April 7th filing deadline. The requirement does not apply retroactively to candidates who met the qualification deadline at noon on April 7th.”
That was all they said. The AP took that and ran with it and said, their headline said, “Trump–Backed Candidate on the Ballot.” No! Wrong interpretation, AP.
But they hung it on this inconsistent and false statement actually issued by the Secretary of State’s office. Trey Hargett, I just said that, and you can come in and try to defend that statement, but it is a false and misleading statement.
Simon: I’m going to be the nasty guy here. There’s been a little bit of nasty. I’m going to go further. Here’s the thing. When you look at politics, you should always look at the politics behind the politics.
What’s going on here is what I will call fear of the most powerful politician/non-politician in the state of Tennessee, a man named Ward Baker. I like Ward Baker, personally. He’s a political pro. He’s a very charming guy, very smart.
Leahy: You brought up Ward. Let me just say very smart guy. He’s a personal friend of mine as well. I like Ward, but he plays hardball.
Simon: He plays hardball, but that’s his job. He’s paid by candidates to get them elected. He’s done a good job with Marsha Blackburn, Mike Pompeo, and people outside.
Leahy: And Bill Hagerty.
Simon: Nashville figures and state figures, anyway.
Leahy: What do you see? Because these are your words, not mine. But we’ll comment on it.
Simon: He figures beneath the surface of this, and that is all of these people from the governor to Hargett to the Speaker of the House, all these people have their eyes on a higher office. That shouldn’t be news to anybody out there.
But that’s what the truth is, and they’re playing this whole game. First of all, they’re afraid that they don’t want to go on the wrong side of Ward because they need Ward down the line, or they don’t want Ward against them.
Leahy: That may apply to some, but not all. But we’ll talk about that.
Simon: I’m just giving you my way of looking at this.
Leahy: Since we’re talking about Ward we probably got to get him on the show and discuss these things and other things. Ward, I’ll call you.
You’re welcome to be on the show. He’s actually offered to be on the show. So we’ll have him discuss it. Some of the things that you are attributing to him, I don’t know if they actually …
Simon: I think it’s fear of him. That’s a different thing.
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.
Live from Music Row Tuesday 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. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed GOP chair for Davidson County Jim Garrett to the newsmaker line to discuss why they are pushing back now on Metro Nashville Public Schools’ attempt to mask mandate students again and how 2022 will be an interesting election year for the Fifth Congressional District of Davidson County.
Cunningham: Jim Garrett is the chair of the Davidson County Republican Party. Jim is on the line with us this morning. Jim, good morning.
Garrett: Good morning. Good morning, Ben. Good morning, Andy, and good morning, Grant. How are you?
Cunningham: We are doing great. Thanks so much for calling in this early. I’m telling you, it puts a new perspective on the world when you get up at 4:00 am in the morning. Actually, I got up at 3:15, so that really was a new perspective.
But thanks so much for calling in this morning, Jim. You guys have just sent a letter to the Metropolitan Nashville School system as the Republican Party of Davidson County. What did you say?
Garrett: We felt it was time that we stand up against this rhetoric that we hear coming from the left. Basically, we outlined that we were against masks and we would encourage the school system not to enforce a mask mandate. And we gave them five or six factual reasons to support our argument there.
I think the left that uses emotion, we like to use fact. And we use factual reasons and studies. And there are so many conflicting studies, you don’t know who to believe. And I think that’s by design on their part to keep us all confused so that their rhetoric seems to be dominant. And it should not be.
Cunningham: Why now? Why at the end of July, first of August – of course, school is about to start. But what motivated you to do this?
Garrett: We had heard several of our members had seen a petition that went out by a group. And I won’t say a left party. But it went out by a group associated with them calling for the schools to reinstitute the mask mandates.
And because of that petition, and they’re advertising in The Tennessean, and they had 1,800 signatures. Because of that, we felt it was important for us to say something.
Henry: Jim, Grant, Henry, here with Americans for Prosperity. Have ya’ll received any kind of response yet? Good, bad, or otherwise to this letter you sent out?
Garrett: I am not aware of any response yet. The people who are monitoring this with us, our communications people told me that there’s not been any feedback. And I personally have not received any. Although I did, again, a call last week from a lady who was a school teacher.
And she kept talking about the Republican Party was so vile in her school by her students and how she didn’t introduce politics to the school. But yet she only let them listen and watch PBS and CNN television shows.
Cunningham: (Laughs) Oh, boy, that’s objectivity. Isn’t it? I’m telling you, it’s crazy. Well, thank you so much for stepping out. And even in a blue county like Davidson County, the Republican votes represent 40 percent plus of the electorate. So they should listen and they should respond, and they should give you some kind of feedback back on this thing.
Garrett: I think the Republicans, our members feel like if we don’t stay in that often, we probably don’t. Conservatives tend to be individualists. We let the individual make the decision like we think parents should be making the decision about masking in schools and not the school board. But they think we don’t say enough. And our executive committee felt it was time on this subject to stand up and shout out our opposition to it.
Henry: Jim, let me ask here as well. Yesterday, Speaker Cameron Sexton was quoted saying the following: “And I sure hope that a school system in this state after this data is released does not shut their schools. If they do, I’m going to ask the governor for legislation to allow these parents in those school districts to take their money through school choice and go to wherever they deem they need to go.”
Is that kind of message resonating with any of the state Republicans in Davidson County?
Garrett: I believe it is. Yes. We believe in the voucher system. It’s been battered back and forth in the General Assembly. I hear it from our members who – some who would like that and some who wouldn’t.
But I do hear it. And so I think we’re supporting that stance. I heard that yesterday and was surprised that he came out with a statement about what he did.
Cunningham: Jim, on another topic, just politics that we’re interested in and I’m sure the audience is interested in is you’re keeping up very closely with the redistricting process. Every 10 years when they do a new census, they have to come out and redraw the political districts.
And, of course, a lot of people are very interested in Davidson County, in the Fifth Congressional District, and what’s going to happen there and how the districts might be drawn. Give us just a quick timeline of how one of the major decision points in the future for that. And when will we know what the new districts will look like?
Garrett: We have talked with Senator Jack Johnson. We’ve talked with Representative Lambert. Members of our group have talked with them about that same question. They tell us now is the time to get involved.
We have a meeting next week with Speaker Sexton to discuss redistricting specifically. And there’ll be another subject in their meeting with Speaker Sexton. But primarily the meeting is about redistricting. We are working on a map of where the Republican voters are in Davidson County, and we’ll have some ideas about what we would like to see.
We don’t need a major change. We just like to have some districts tweaked a little bit to pick up five or six points. And if we get a fair chance, I think we can pick up seats. But we don’t need a slam dunk in say a half a dozen districts or so. But we need some help here in Davidson County.
Cunningham: It is the enclave of Democrats that stay there year after year. I don’t know how long Jim Cooper has been there. Of course, Jim’s got a challenger from the left also this time, a pretty strong challenge. I think AOC has endorsed his challenger. So lots of things going on.
He’s got to worry about the challenger from the left first. But hopefully, we can have a competitive district where Republicans can have a shot. At least running a good, solid campaign and presenting a great alternative.
Garrett: I think Cooper’s been there – I’ve heard – 32 years, and he’s run basically unopposed for most of those, unfortunately. But yes, this year he seems to have a good shot at it. I would actually like to see Kelly win the primary for Starbuck because I think she would be a better opponent to run against than Cooper is.
She is so socialist and so much to the left, I think she would make a good opposite candidate. 2022 is going to be an interesting year. We have got two or three candidates right now that have announced running for that seat. There are going to be more that show up.
I’m sure that there’s one or two more. I’ve talked with them and they’re still in the decision process. So I think 2022 is going to be an interesting year for the U.S. Congress seat here in Davidson County.
Cunningham: And how do people get in touch with the Davidson County Republican Party?
Garrett: They can always get us through the gopnashville.org website. And there are buttons here for volunteering for contributing. But if you go to the volunteer button and put your name in, there is a place where you can ask questions. We get questions through there all the time.
Leahy: In studio, Robby Starbuck is with us. Good morning, Robby.
Starbuck: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
Leahy: We just ran up the stairs.
Starbuck: We sure did.
Scooter: You guys need a little time to catch your breath? I got some perfect music.
Leahy: Robby needs less time than I do.
Scooter: I got here specifically at this time to make sure we got our exercise. It was one of those things, you know, where you hit every red light, every single red light on the way here.
Leahy: I do that some mornings.
Scooter: It happens. But in the nick time.
Leahy: Scooter goes 30 seconds. 15 seconds!
Scooter: I’m looking over and I’m in the last element in our thing here. And I’m like, uh oh, they’re not back. This is going to get weird.
Leahy: Robby Starbuck. Robby welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.
Starbuck: Thank you for having me. I’m very excited to be here. I know that pretty much all of my neighbors are in love with this show. The where they were very excited.
Leahy: Your neighbors have very good taste.
Starbuck: They do. They’re smart people.
Leahy: This is your first time in studio.
Starbuck: It is. It is. So I’ve been on a couple of times, but this is the first time I made it here for the full show.
Leahy: It’s totally more fun to be in studio.
Starbuck: It is.
Leahy: Even if we have to race up the stairs.
Starbuck: That makes it more fun.
Leahy: So that Scooter doesn’t have dead air when he opens up the show.
Scooter: There will be something on the air. I don’t necessarily want to know me, but there will be something. (Leahy laughs)
Starbuck: Well, tell me it’s not memorable. We’ll never forget the first time I was in studio.
Leahy: We will remember that. So Robby Starbuck, you have announced that you’re running for Congress in the Fifth Congressional District. Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.
Starbuck: So if you don’t know me already, I started out sort of making my name in Hollywood as a director, producer. I directed and produced some of the biggest stars. Oscar-winning actors, actresses.
Leahy: See that’s kind of cool, right? Making a name in Hollywood?
Starbuck: Yeah. It’s not as cool as it sounds. That was where I had to make that decision to come out as a conservative. And it was a no-brainer for me because my family came from Cuba.
Leahy: Where in Cuba is your family from?
Starbuck: Ciego de Avila? It’s kind of a rural area. It’s not by the beach.
Leahy: And when did they come out of Cuba?
Starbuck: It was in the 60s. They all came at different times. So I can give you, like, one year, because the nature of it was like, say, like my grandpa. My mom came first, but my grandpa was held for a few years.
And the State Department had to get him out. So it was all in different stages, and some of my family members never got to leave. Some of them have died in Cuba, and some of them are still stuck there.
Leahy: Now, did your father come from Cuba?
Starbuck: No. My dad didn’t come from Cuba.
Leahy: Where’s your dad from?
Starbuck: I think he was born in Oklahoma.
Leahy: So your mom came here in the 60s? Where did she live when she first came here?
Starbuck: Florida. So my family started over completely. I mean, they lost everything. Even my great-grandpa started over as a janitor working two jobs.
Leahy: So they came with nothing. They had assets in Cuba.
Starbuck: They had their home stolen, their car stolen, every possession they had. I mean, for people that don’t know the history of Cuba, I mean, they took everything at gunpoint, and that’s it. You get to come with your shirt on your back. There was a legal process for it. They follow that process.
Leahy: A legal process for stealing your property.
Starbuck: Exactly. A legal process for stealing your property and then kicking you out basically.
Leahy: That could never happen here.
Starbuck: Oh, yeah. You know what? That’s the reason why I came out because I saw that there were all these steps that my grandparents, my mom had warned me about my entire life, about how this happened. How did we get to that place?
Leahy: How old was your mom when she came here?
Starbuck: She was 17.
Leahy: In 1962.
Starbuck: It was like 60, 63, 64.
Leahy: That was after the revolution. So she was probably 13 during the revolution. 59, 60.
Starbuck: And so for them, it was one of those things where they were far enough away, where nobody had really pushed up on them. And I think this is one of the things people can kind of relate to now is if you feel like it’s not at your front doorstep yet and you see the stuff happening right now in society.
Leahy: First they came for the. Then they came for the. Then they came from you.
Starbuck: One of the biggest regrets you’ll hear from Venezuelans and Cubans is that not enough people stood up. They kept waiting, thinking it’s not going to hit my doorstep.
Leahy: And then it did.
Starbuck: And then it did.
Leahy: Venezuela. I’ve been to Venezuela before.
Starbuck: It was awful.
Leahy: It was a great, beautiful place way back. Way back in 1972, 73. I guess it was a long time ago. You weren’t even born then. (Laughs) So where did your mom and dad meet?
Starbuck: They met in California. So part of my family still lives in Florida, part in Cuba and then part in California. So my mom and her great grandparents, I’m sorry. Her grandparents, my great grandparents, and her parents moved to California to start over there because one of them had gotten a job there. She met him I want to say, is West Covina was where they met.
Leahy: Southern California. And now what did your mom and her parents do for a living in California?
Starbuck: My grandpa ended up doing insurance. Super exciting. He was in insurance sales.
Leahy: We have a lot of insurance people listening to us.
Starbuck: I was being serious. It is super exciting. I mean, the stories that he has about his time and insurance is actually some exciting about that. For instance, a lot of people don’t know there are tornadoes in California. That was something that most people have no idea about. But there are tornadoes.
Leahy: I didn’t know that.
Starbuck: And so there’s a certain amount of tornado damage every year. I always found that interesting. So he got a job in insurance.
Leahy: What did your mom do? Did she go to college?
Starbuck: She was in real estate. Was actually the first person to go to college.
Leahy: So your mom’s in real estate and your dad in a meet and West Covina? And they get married. Where did you grow up? I grew up partially in Temecula. So my childhood is a little interesting. I graduated at 16.
Leahy: From high school.
Starbuck: So I actually left home and had simultaneously finished my first year of College in a gifted program in California.
Leahy: Are you gifted Robby?
Starbuck: Here’s what’s interesting about that program.
Leahy: We have a gifted person in here.
Starbuck: What’s really interesting about it is that the program is now being trashed in California because they say that program is a racist because there are too many Asians in the program.
Leahy: And so your mom is Cuban. And that program, from what you graduated, is now being trashed as racist.
Starbuck: It’s being trashed as racist. And another kid, let’s say, who has sort of accelerated learning and is ready to move ahead faster, won’t be able to anymore. They’re gonna be pushed back.
Leahy: They got to move it back. Dumb it down right?
Starbuck: I mean, I thought we were supposed to celebrate exceptionalism and like wanting to push ahead.
Leahy: America traditionally celebrates exceptionalism.
Starbuck: We should. We always should.
Leahy: I don’t know what this thing is we’re in right now.
Starbuck: It’s definitely not that. It’s the antithesis of it. So I left at 16 and essentially started my life.
Leahy: So let’s go back. What did your dad do for a living? He was also real estate.
Leahy: Real estate. And so you grew up in which said you grew up in?
Starbuck: Temecula was the initial place.
Leahy: And Temecula is where in Southern California?
Starbuck: It’s kind of about an hour, 15 minutes north of San Diego.
Leahy: So is it Orange County?
Starbuck: No, not Orange County. No, it’s Riverside County.
Leahy: Riverside County. A little deserty?
Starbuck: It’s bigger now. There’s an Indian casino there.
Leahy: Where was the special program?
Starbuck: It was all over the state of California so you could qualify for it.
Leahy: You graduate from high school at 16 Temecula, and you’ve got your first year of college. What happens then?
Starbuck: I went to work while doing college for a guy named Brad Greenspan. He started a site called MySpace.
Leahy: So you were working for MySpace.
Starbuck: Not only that, but he had a website called Live Video. It was the first video streaming website on the Internet. And everybody thought this was a crazy idea.
Leahy: So you were going to college where I was going at the time.
Starbuck: I ended up switching to Saddleback, which was a college where I was able to work and then go to school.
Leahy: Where did you start?
Starbuck: Saddleback, Orange County. And I was able to work there like it was my work.
Leahy: So you were in Orange County working for the MySpace folks, working for Brad. And he had a couple of different websites. So did you work just for MySpace or for other websites,
Starbuck: It was a whole company. A bunch of different things. So we produced original content, original shows.
Leahy: I mean, when you say you work for him, did you write code?
Starbuck: No, I was producing shows.
Leahy: How old are you?
Starbuck: 16. So how do you monetize all this stuff on the Internet?
Leahy: How do you connect with Brad.
Starbuck: Through a recruiter. Actually, a guy named Trent, who I’m still really good friends with today, who I flipped from being a Bernie Bro to being a Trump voter. He was my recruiter. He recruited me there.
Leahy: How did you connect with this guy?
Starbuck: He found me. Honestly, I’ve never asked him how he found me, but he found me.
Leahy: Had you done some video stuff?
Starbuck: I had done some video stuff, and I had sort of large social media already then. And I think that’s how he found me. That’d be my guess. That was my assumption.
Leahy: Was there a MySpace office or did you work out of your house?
Starbuck: There were multiple. So there was an office for E Universe, which was the parent company. And then you could work from home, work from the studio if you were shooting stuff. It was very free.
Leahy: Where was the universe located?
Starbuck: There was an office in LA. and then there was a satellite office in Orange County.
Leahy: Did you work in the satellite office?
Starbuck: I did both. It was depending on what we were doing.
Leahy: How old were you when you did this?
Leahy: Are you thinking, how did this happen?
Starbuck: Not really.
Leahy: Was it because you were gifted? (Laughs)
Starbuck: No. You’re never going to forget that.
Leahy: Yes. Every time we introduce you, ladies and gentlemen, the gifted Robby Starbuck. (Laughs)
Starbuck: No, no, actually, I wish they had a different word for those programs.
Leahy: I’m just teasing.
Starbuck: No, I know. It was really funny the first time I met with Brad was like, look, the weird thing for me here is like, don’t talk about your age with people because they’re gonna feel really weird answering to a 16-year-old. So you just look young. It was like this thing at work that you just didn’t talk about.