5/6/21 Gov. Bill Lee speaks at JC Ford Ribboncutting

Andy Ogles

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles on Tuesday made the expected announcement that he was joining the growing Republican field in Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District, newly redrawn to favor the GOP.

Ogles has a long track record as a conservative in Tennessee, having led the state chapter of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity (AFP) before running for mayor. During COVID-19, he has become one of the state's most prominent voices whose views on pandemic response fell to the right of Republican Gov. Bill Lee. Ogles was reported to have been considering a primary challenge of Lee.

His embrace of AFP-style conservatism has not been absolute, though. In 2019, he joined striking union workers at the General Motors plant in his county.

More than a dozen Republican candidates have either picked up petitions or filed campaign finance paperwork to run for the seat as incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) decided to retire. Candidates in the GOP primary include former state House Speaker Beth Harwell and former U.S. State Department aide Morgan Ortagus, who secured former President Trump’s endorsement but could be ineligible to run if residency requirements are enacted by the state legislature.

"If you look at the last two years, our freedoms and liberty have been under attack, have undergone a direct assault," Ogles told The Daily Herald. "Maury County stood our ground. I don't see anyone who will stand and fight like I did the last two years. OSHA and CMS and regulatory bodies are acting like Congress. We need to get that power back to the states and Congress. The power and authority needs to be pushed back to the states."