Tennessee Republican says only Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump will care that state GOP kicked Trump-endorsed candidate off the ballot because 'she's Jewish'

Morgan Ortagus and Jared Kushner.
Morgan Ortagus and Jared Kushner.Riccardo Savi and Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • The Tennessee GOP booted Trump-endorsed Morgan Ortagus, who is Jewish, from the ballot on Thursday.

  • State Sen. Frank Niceley said only Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump would care because they're also Jewish.

  • Niceley drew fire just last week for invoking Hitler while pushing a bill to criminalize camping on state property.

A Republican state senator in Tennessee said that only former President Donald Trump's Jewish family members will care that the state Republican party booted his chosen House candidate, Morgan Ortagus, off the primary ballot.

Ortagus, who served as a spokesperson for the State Department during Trump's presidency, converted to Judaism. Her campaign for a Nashville-area House seat was endorsed by the former president in February, but met resistance from local Republicans who took umbrage at her moving in from out of state.

"I don't think Trump cares one way or the other," state Sen. Frank Niceley told NBC News. "I think Jared Kushner — he's Jewish, she's Jewish — I think Jared will be upset. Ivanka [Trump] will be upset. I don't think Trump cares."

Both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are Jewish. Trump's daughter converting to the faith after she married Kushner in 2009.

Niceley, who spearheaded legislation that would require congressional candidates to live in Tennessee for at least three years in order to qualify for primary ballots, also told NBC that while he would "vote for Trump as long as he lives," he didn't "want him coming out here to tell me who to vote for."

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich told The Tennessean that the notion that Trump is okay with Ortagus's removal from the ballot is "a dirty lie" and that Republicans in the state are "trying to quietly pull strings and illegally remove President Trump's endorsed candidate, Morgan Ortagus, from the ballot."

On Tuesday, the state GOP voted to remove Ortagus from the primary ballot — which they possess the authority to do — because the party's bylaws require candidates to have voted in three of the last four Republican primaries and be active participants in local politics.

In response, Ortagus said she was "evaluating the options before us," but criticized Niceley's comments as anti-Semitic.

"I will condemn anyone who traffics in this hate-mongering," said Ortagus in a statement. "Senator Niceley's repulsive words could not be more clear in disparaging the Jewish people. This racism cannot stand."

Niceley "should be ashamed of his repeated anti-Semitic rhetoric," she went on, adding that she's "incredibly proud to call myself a part of the Jewish people."

The Republican Jewish Coalition also criticized Niceley, writing on Twitter that his rhetoric "reeks" of anti-Semitism.

"His inference that only the Jews around President Trump care about Morgan Ortagus because she's Jewish herself reveals a dark side that has no place in Republican politics," they wrote.

—RJC (@RJC) April 20, 2022

Niceley's office didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Strikingly, it's not the first time Niceley has faced national criticism in the last week.

Last Thursday, Niceley invoked Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as an example of someone who "went on to lead a life that got him in the history books" while arguing for a bill that would criminalize camping on public property.

His contention was that homeless people can lead productive lives — "or in Hitler's case, a very unproductive life," as Niceley said — after leaving homeless encampments.

—The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) April 14, 2022

 

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