Robby Starbuck

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Friday that congressional candidate Robby Starbuck should be kept off the Republican primary ballot in the 5th Congressional District.

Tennessee Republican Party leadership had previously voted to kick Starbuck and two other candidates out of the race, citing their lack of supposed GOP "bona fides" (Starbuck moved to the area in 2019).

A lower-court judge last week ruled that the state GOP had violated open meetings laws in the vote, but the Supreme Court overturned the decision Friday, leaving little recourse for the onetime candidate.

The primary is scheduled for Aug. 4, and Starbuck has blamed top candidates Beth Harwell and Andy Ogles for supporting his ouster. Also kicked off the ballot was Trump-endorsed Morgan Ortagus, who did not sue. She has since supported another candidate in the race, Kurt Winstead.

Starbuck has threatened to run as a write-in candidate in the November general election, when the winner of the multi-candidate GOP primary is expected to face Democrat Heidi Campbell.