Politics & Government

Former congresswoman Renee Ellmers is considering a statewide campaign

Former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers said Monday she is considering a campaign for lieutenant governor and will make her decision by the end of the month.

Ellmers, a Dunn Republican, served three terms in Congress before losing a Republican primary in 2016 to U.S. Rep. George Holding after district lines were redrawn and Holding decided to run in the 2nd District.

Ellmers joins a pool of announced and potential candidates for the office. Among Republicans, that includes former state Rep. Scott Stone of Charlotte, who said Monday he is “very likely to run” and a formal announcement would come “as soon as this month.” Stone already has a campaign website.

Ellmers was the first woman in Congress to endorse Donald Trump, The News & Observer reported. After her defeat, she landed a federal appointment running the U.S. Health and Human Services regional office in Atlanta. Ellmers said she resigned from that job Feb. 1.

“My reasoning for looking at the lieutenant governor position is really my background being in healthcare and knowing how important it is,” Ellmers said in an interview. “There needs to be more of a conversation by our legislature and elected officials. It’s one of my top issues.”

The decision to leave the job in Atlanta is not connected to her potential campaign, she said.

“I was ready to come back to North Carolina permanently,” she said. “I was approached by some folks” about running, Ellmers said, and decided to give it serious thought.

Other candidates

Stone spent about two years and seven months in the legislature. Democratic Rep. Wesley Harris defeated him last year.

“There are a number of issues where I think I can make a big difference and be a strong voice for North Carolina,” Stone said.

Former GOP Mecklenburg County commissioner Jim Puckett is also considering running for lieutenant governor, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Among Democrats, state Sen. Terry Van Duyn of Asheville and former state Sen. Cal Cunningham are running. State Rep. Chaz Beasley and former state Sen. Malcolm Graham, both Charlotte Democrats, are considering campaigns for the office, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Two-term Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest cannot seek another term and will likely run for governor in 2020.

Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor don’t run as a ticket in North Carolina.

Cooper and Democrats in the legislature are pushing for the state to expand Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act as a way to provide health insurance to low-income adults who are uninsured.

Ellmers was a nurse before she ran for office and was a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act.

Ellmers said she wants adults to be able to find jobs that pay enough so that they don’t need Medicaid.

Typically, lieutenant governors end up trying for the state’s highest office. Ellmers said she has not gotten that far in her considerations.