Primary Day: Trump Takes On The Koch Brothers, Club For Growth And The Tea Partry
We've been focused on today's congressional primaries in races in California, New Jersey and Iowa, where Blue America is backing 9 candidates in competitive races: Lou Vince, Nanette Barragan, Bao Nguyen, Bill Ostrander, Alex Law, Jim Keady and Pat Murphy. But there are also primaries for House seats in South Dakota New Mexico, Montana and North Carolina. Many of the races in these states are not competitive. Even in New Jersey, where Blue America is involved with primaries for Alex Law, Eloy Delgado and Jim Keady, we have another candidate we've endorsed-- Peter Jacobs, who's taking on Republican Leonard Lance--where the party is already united and the nomination is settled... at least on the Democratic side. We think Peter will be up against Lance, the Trump-supporting GOP incumbent, but the Republicans have their own primary in NJ-07, where Lance has 2 crackpot opponents, right-wing businessman Craig Heard and teabagger gadfly David Larsen. Lance has already spent $665,108 making sure he would have no surprises tonight, while Heard has spent $47,667 (Larsen has spent nothing).
But the most-watched Republican primary today is definitely in North Carolina, where gerrymandering has caused a court-ordered redistricting that has thrown two incumbents-- Renee Ellmers and George Holding into a race against each other (which also includes a well-known far right extremist, Greg Brannon). We've been mentioning this race lately because movement conservative organizations have lined up against Ellmers in a big way and because she moved early to wrap herself in the Trump lustre. She was one of the first members of Congress (and the first woman member) to fully embrace his narcissistic-- not to mention racist, xenophobic and misogynistic-- campaign. It was a shrewd strategy once the right-wing had declared war on her and backed Holding. Aside from Holding's own family SuperPAC, the American Foundations Committee, putting $330,580 into the race, The Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity threw in $205,794 in their first foray into the world of congressional primaries and the Club for Growth threw $787,841 into the red hot primary. Two other extremist groups, FreedomWorks and the Susan B Anthony List, the lunatic fringe GOP version of EMILY's List, have also jumped in to attack Ellmers.
Game-changing big news broke in the race over the weekend, when Trump himself weighed in with an endorsement for Ellmers, putting him in conflict with the right-wing of the party and in line with the Paul Ryan establishment wing. Saturday he gave Ellmers the robocall you can hear up top. Tonight we'll get a another clue whether Trump is going to be seen as a king-maker or a drag for congressional Republicans. Koch money vs the Trump brand!
He didn't give Ellmers any money or even pay for the call, but this will be a test of what his name means to Republican primary voters. Although Trump did well in his own primary in North Carolina, he didn't do great in the Raleigh suburbs which make up much of this district. Ted Cruz beat Trump in Franklin, Nash, Wilson, Chatham and Johnston counties. Before Trump's endorsement Saturday, Holding looked like he would win this one. Trump has thrown the contest into turmoil-- and there will be no runoff. Whoever gets a plurality wins the primary and, in effect, the seat. Most of the newly drawn second district was part of Holding's old district and just a small part was in Ellmer's. Here's a Koch brothers ad that ran this weekend:
Monday morning, the Tea Party Patriots, which calls itself the "biggest" of all the teabagger groups still active in politics, endorsed Holding, primarily because they hate Ellmers (and Paul Ryan). They are now urging North Carolina Republican primary voters to "reject a Representative who first ran for office with Tea Party support but was seduced by Washington once she got to the nation’s capital." This pits them directly against what Trump is asking NC-02 Republican primary voters to do. Should be interesting to watch the results roll in tonight.
Rep. George Holding-- a former legal counsel to the revered Sen. Jesse Helms-- refused to support the Ryan-Murray budget deal that ended Sequestration; supported the 2015 Republican Study Committee budget; has refused to vote to raise the debt ceiling; voted in favor of prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion; voted in favor of preventing the IRS from implementing ObamaCare; voted to require Members of Congress and their staffs to give up their illegal ObamaCare subsidies; and has been a strong opponent of both illegal immigration and the Obama Administration’s executive amnesty programs.
Rep. Renee Ellmers, on the other hand, has been a disappointment, to say the least. She campaigned in 2010 with Tea Party support, but turned her back once she got to Washington, and instead became another Big Government liberal. She supported wasteful spending bills-- including voting for a trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill that broke the spending caps Congress had set on itself!-- and voted to increase the national debt. She even sided with Nancy Pelosi in voting to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank last year, and she voted to fund President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty program.
Perhaps even worse than her voting record, however, is her disdainful and dismissive attitude toward her constituents. In one such meeting in 2014, she was so rude that the meeting-- an account of which can be found here-- has become legendary. She has made clear that she no longer thinks of herself as her constituents’ representative to Washington; instead, she thinks of herself as Washington’s representative to her constituents. That’s just not a record worthy of Tea Party support, and, in fact, is a record worthy of Tea Party opposition.
UPDATE: Trump The Big Loser In North Carolina
George Holding trounced Renee Ellmers, (despite?) the endorsement by and robocall from Trump. She barely held on to second place, losing 5 of the 6 counties, narrowly winning Harnett Co.
• George Holding- 53.38%
• Renee Ellmers- 23.64%
• Greg Brannon- 22.99%