Politics & Government

Trump ally Ellmers too ‘liberal’ for NC, claims conservative PAC

FILE – U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., speaks on Capitol Hill in 2011. Ellmers faces a primary challenge from fellow GOP incumbent Rep. George Holding. Either Holding or Ellmers will lose their seat in Congress following North Carolina’s June 7 primary.
FILE – U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., speaks on Capitol Hill in 2011. Ellmers faces a primary challenge from fellow GOP incumbent Rep. George Holding. Either Holding or Ellmers will lose their seat in Congress following North Carolina’s June 7 primary. AP

In the last few weeks before North Carolina’s congressional primary elections, the conservative political action committee Club for Growth Action plans to spend more money on TV ads opposing Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers.

Ellmers faces a re-election challenge this year from fellow GOP incumbent U.S. Rep. George Holding. Greg Brannon, a former candidate for U.S. Senate from North Carolina, and a doctor, is also running.

Recently, Ellmers has closely-aligned herself with Donald Trump – a move that doesn’t help her with a group like Club for Growth, which has actively campaigned against the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Ellmers wrote Donald Trump’s profile in last month’s Time magazine “100 Most Influential People” feature.

Club for Growth Action – the political campaign arm of Club for Growth – has already run one TV ad attacking Ellmers, claiming she’s too “liberal” for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District. The 2nd is one of many congressional districts in the state this year to see substantial boundary and precinct changes as a result of redistricting.

State lawmakers earlier this year were forced to redraw district lines due to a court ruling North Carolina’s maps were racially gerrymandered.

After the redistricting displaced Holding from the 13th Congressional District he currently represents – the 13th was moved further west across the state – he announced plans to run against Ellmers in the 2nd.

Ellmers, from Dunn, North Carolina, has held her seat since 2010. Holding, who was first elected in 2012, is from Raleigh.

On Friday, Club for Growth Action President David McIntosh charged Ellmers isn’t the same “tea-party conservative” she ran as six years ago. He called Ellmers “an establishment liberal in Washington,” and criticized her vote in favor of December’s omnibus spending bill that avoided a government shutdown.

The group plans to spend more money in North Carolina’s 2nd district leading up to the primary, spokesman Doug Sachtleben told McClatchy in an email Friday. An exact figure wasn’t disclosed.

North Carolina’s congressional primaries will be June 7. The election was delayed due to redistricting.

Ellmers’ campaign Friday called the Club for Growth “a Washington special interest group that supports candidates like George Holding and Greg Brannon because they have pledged to be their puppets.”

Patrick Sebastian, Ellmers’ campaign spokesman, said the group was unable to effectively attack Trump this election cycle, so they’ve turned toward attacking his allies. Sebastian noted Ellmers’ conservative record of pro-military and Medicare reform votes in Congress.

Ellmers was the first woman in Congress to endorse Trump. She has very publicly championed Trump and she penned the billionaire CEO’s profile in last month’s Time magazine “100 Most Influential People” feature.

At the same time, the Club for Growth spent months attacking the GOP presidential frontrunner, threatening Republicans who endorsed Trump prior to Sen. Ted Cruz and John Kaisch dropping out this week.

Budd picks up Club for Growth support

Also Friday, Club for Growth Action endorsed Ted Budd in North Carolina’s most-crowded primary election race, in the 13th Congressional District. There, 17 Republicans will appear on the June 7 GOP primary ballot. Five Democrats are running in the 13th district.

Sachtleben said his group is encouraging supporters to bundle donations to Budd’s campaign through the Club for Growth’s PAC but it’s so far undetermined whether they’ll run independent TV ads in North Carolina’s 13th district.

McIntosh, in a news statement, called Budd “a successful entrepreneur who is ready to take on Washington.” Budd’s campaign for Congress is his first-ever run for public office.

North Carolina will hold its primary elections for congressional seats on June 7. The election was delayed due to redistricting.

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews

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