The final day to file campaign papers is Friday and one candidate who could change the equation in a Raleigh-area congressional seat is still undecided.
Robert Holding, a wealthy businessman, longtime politico and brother of U.S. Rep. George Holding, said he is considering challenging Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in the 2nd Congressional District.
If he enters the race, Holding said in an interview Thursday he would write a $1 million personal check – a figure that would transform the race and vault him to the front of the primary picture.
Holding, 61, plans to make a decision Friday morning after talking to his wife who is returning from Australia, where their daughter lives. Filing ends at noon.
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Ellmers, a second term Republican aligned with House leadership, already faces a Republican challenge from Frank Roche, a tea party candidate, and three Democrats are vying to challenge her, including former “American Idol” contestant Clay Aiken. Ellmers had $261,000 in the bank at the start of the year.
Holding says Ellmers “has gone Washington” and Aiken is a serious threat. “Do not underestimate Clay Aiken,” he said. “He’s speaking from the heart. If he gets off the ground there is a concern on my side that he could get loose and win that thing.”
His analysis comes from early results of a poll he put in the field.
Former Republican U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth “is to blame for all this,” Holding said of his potential run. He said Faircloth, a good friend, encouraged him to run and endorsed his not-yet-campaign in a letter Wednesday in which he called Holding “the most qualified conservative” he knows.
“I am convinced that if Republicans keep caving on spending and freedom issues, that it could be the ruin of the America we love,” Faircloth, now 86, wrote in the letter provided by Holding.
Holding’s political connections to North Carolina politics date back to Dan Moore’s bid for governor in the early 1960s and the campaigns of the late Sen. Jesse Helms. His family owns First Citizens Bank and he leads several businesses, from a broadcast company to a family farm. (He acknowledges he was “born with a silver spoon.”)
Holding lives in Johnston County outside the district but worked in the area for years. “I have worked in the 2nd District. That’s where people associate me,” he said.
The economy would be his focus. “I am mad as hell about it,” he said, adding, “the problem in Washington is not the American people.”
As for two brothers serving together in Congress, Robert Holding said he’s not sure how it would play with voters.
George Holding was recently named the second most conservative member of Congress by National Journal. Robert Holding said he’d give him a run for that ranking.