Politics & Government

Holding sheds no tears in challenging Ellmers: ‘Just is what it is’

Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 8, 2014. Following redistricting in his state, Holding will challenge fellow Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in the 2nd Congressional District GOP primary.
Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 8, 2014. Following redistricting in his state, Holding will challenge fellow Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in the 2nd Congressional District GOP primary. AP

Rep. George Holding said Tuesday he has no problems challenging fellow Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District following the latest remap.

“It doesn’t faze me greatly,” Holding said during an interview on Capitol Hill. “This is the political system.”

A court challenge to the state’s existing congressional district boundaries required the state legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, to re-draw the map this month. Holding, from Raleigh, represents the 13th Congressional District. Ellmers, from Dunn, represents the 2nd.

Four primary challengers already had filed to run against Ellmers in the 2nd, but at least one has said he may change his plans and run elsewhere because of redistricting.

Holding’s decision last week to run in Ellmers’ home district – instead of the proposed 13th Congressional District, which will likely be relocated toward the western end of the state, or the 4th, where his Raleigh home is now located – has drawn ire from Ellmers’ campaign.

“Frankly, to want power that bad ... (it’s) an extremely aggressive move,” said Patrick Sebastian, a spokesman for the Ellmers campaign, told McClatchy last week.

Holding, in an interview Tuesday, called politics “messy,” adding, “This just is what it is.”

When I looked at the map, (I thought), ‘Well, I’m going to run where I’ve been running.’

, pointing to precinct data

As of Tuesday afternoon, Holding said he had not yet spoken to Ellmers about the June 7 primary. But he said he already has made calls to donors and friends, asking for support and endorsements.

Seeking re-election in the 2nd district, he said, is the only reasonable choice he could make. He has no ties to the new 13th Congressional District and likely would not beat incumbent Rep. David Price, a Democrat, in the 4th Congressional District, which is drawn to include more Democratic voters than Republican.

“When I looked at the (new) map, (I thought), ‘Well, I’m going to run where I’ve been running,’ ” Holding said, pointing to precinct data that show the new 2nd district will include about 61 percent of the precincts currently in his 13th district.

The redraw of the district boundaries would put back in the 2nd district some of the territory Ellmers first ran in in 2010 before an earlier round of redistricting. And, of the area Ellmers currently represents, at least 18 of those precincts are included in the new district.

All told, Holding currently represents the majority of towns proposed to be included in the new 2nd district.

I feel pretty good. It’s essentially the same district I’ve been running in.

U.S. Rep. George Holding, Republican from Raleigh

Holding said he expects to raise between $500,000 and $1 million in campaign donations as he seeks re-election in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District.

Due to not having a previously announced primary challenger in his current safe Republican district, the 13th, Holding said he has not been aggressively raising money this election cycle. He has significant fundraising ground to cover to challenge Ellmers.

With about $415,000 as “cash on hand” at the end of 2015, Ellmers has more than twice the campaign funding that Holding has, disclosure records show.

Fundraising, though, has historically not been much of an obstacle for Holding, whose well-to-do family raised nearly $1.4 million during Holding’s first campaign in 2012.

With about $415,000 as ‘cash on hand’ at the end of 2015, Ellmers has more than double the campaign funds that Holding has, disclosure records show.

Holding shrugged off suggestions that the state’s redrawing of maps puts him at a re-election disadvantage because of the 13th district being relocated to a different part of the state – running from Greensboro to Statesville.

“I feel pretty good,” he said of the new 2nd District. “It’s essentially the same district I’ve been running in.”

Holding also avoided direct attacks on Ellmers, her voting record, or her ability to get re-elected this year.

“I’m going to run on my record,” he said, touting among other moves his “no” vote on 2015’s “omnibus” spending bill, which avoided a federal government shutdown but didn’t include substantial budget cuts.

Ellmers joined the majority of Republicans who voted for the budget deal in December. She said she supported it because it delays certain taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act and extends some tax credits for the manufacturing industry.

A crap bill.

Rep. George Holding, on the omnibus legislation that he opposed and Rep. Renee Ellmers supported

Holding called the omnibus legislation – which passed, was signed by President Barack Obama and will fund the government for one year – “a crap bill” that included more for Democrats than the Republicans.

News of the revised district boundaries and Holding’s decision to switch to the 2nd district came as the two-term incumbent was on official travel in Europe as chairman of Congress’ United Kingdom caucus. That post interests him, he said, because of the “special relationship” historically between the U.S. and the U.K. His wife, Lucy, was born in England.

Last week, Holding was in Gibraltar and London to meet with some government officials. The trip, he said, was primarily related to an ongoing territorial dispute between British officials and the government of Spain over waters around Gibraltar.

While out of the country, Holding said, he was still keeping up with the redistricting news in North Carolina.

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews

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