“We don’t want carpetbaggers coming in here with lots of money,” Mr. Niceley told a local television station last month. He also told NBC News that he believed it was only the Jewish members of Mr. Trump’s family, and not the former president himself, who cared about the candidacy of Ms. Ortagus, who is also Jewish.
On Facebook, Ms. Ortagus called the remarks “repulsive” and said “this racism cannot stand.” Mr. Niceley also has a history of making bizarre, antisemitic remarks. In 2016 he wrote on Twitter that Adolf Hitler and his “plebiscites were democracy in action.” In a speech on the floor of the legislature last month, Mr. Niceley cited Hitler as an example of a person who overcame homelessness and went on to lead a life “that got him in the history books.”
Mr. Lee’s campaign did not immediately respond to telephone and email messages seeking comment. Mr. Starbuck, in a statement, called his removal “disgusting” and said the party was “stealing the people’s vote.”
The candidates’ removal was first reported by The Tennessean in Nashville.
The district is held by Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat, who announced in January that he would retire after redistricting turned his safe Democratic seat into one that is practically guaranteed to elect a Republican. The day Mr. Cooper announced his retirement, Mr. Trump endorsed Ms. Ortagus, who had raised more than half a million dollars for the race.
Mr. Starbuck had also nabbed a high-profile endorsement, from Representative Madison Cawthorn, Republican of North Carolina.
Nine other candidates are running for the Republican nomination, including Kurt Winstead, a businessman who has nearly $1 million on hand according to the latest campaign disclosure report, and Beth Harwell, the former speaker of the state legislature, who has more than $340,000 on hand, according to recent disclosure reports.
Mr. Winstead and Ms. Harwell’s campaigns did not immediately reply to email and Facebook messages seeking comment.