FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Todd McMurtry, an attorney who represented a Kentucky student embroiled in media lawsuits after a viral encounter with a Native American activist, stepped forward Friday to challenge U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, setting up an intraparty fight in a solidly Republican congressional district.
McMurtry filed to challenge Massie in the May GOP primary in the 4th District, a conservative bastion that spans the state's northern tier. McMurtry filed a few hours before the deadline for candidates to get their names on this year's ballot.
McMurtry described himself as a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump and said he'd be a better ally than the veteran congressman.
“I’ve just seen that Thomas Massie is not a person that the president can rely upon,” McMurtry said in a phone interview. “Now is an important time in our country to stand behind the president."
Massie's office did not immediately return a phone call or email seeking comment.
Massie was among three Republicans who recently voted for a Democratic-backed resolution asserting that Trump must seek congressional approval before engaging in further military action against Iran.
On Friday, McMurtry said Massie's vote “sealed my thinking and confirmed everything I had been thinking about his approach to Washington."
McMurtry has been part of Nick Sandmann's legal team after the Kentucky teenager became embroiled in an encounter with a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. CNN recently settled a lawsuit filed by Sandmann, who claimed media organizations falsely labeled him as a racist following the well-publicized encounter.
Massie was first elected to Congress in 2012 after serving as judge-executive in Lewis County. The congressman is a favorite among tea party activists and constitutional conservatives.