GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers and Rep. George Holding are facing a winner-take-all June 7 primary for the GOP nomination in North Carolina’s 2nd congressional District — and conservatives are rallying to defeat Ellmers.
“In a [primary] race like this, I get to run on my record and she gets to run on her record,” Holding told Breitbart said. “I have a conservative voting record and she has a liberal voting record—and this is a conservative district.”
Carter Wrenn, Holding’s campaign’s spokesman, said North Carolina conservatives once had high hopes for Ellmers.
“She jumped on the Tea Party bandwagon in 2009,” he said. “But, as soon as she got the Washington, we learned that she was just an opportunist.”
Wrenn said the congresswoman’s support for President Barack Obama’s executive actions, such as his amnesty for illegal aliens, and her votes for the Export-Import Bank and the 2014 ‘Cromnibus’ bill have shown her willingness to represent the establishment instead of the people back home.
But Ellmers also was the first congresswoman to endorse Donald J. Trump and the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee returned the favor. Wrenn said it will not make any difference. “We are very optimistic.”
Prior to deadline, Breitbart reached out through email, twitter and phone to Rep. Ellmers. Breitbart did not get a response.
The Susan B. Anthony List, the political action committee that supports pro-life Republicans, is also weighing in against Ellmers and for Holding.
“While in office, Representative Holding has been a faithful advocate for the sanctity of life, as evidenced by his excellent voting record, as well as his work and relationships with other champions of life on behalf of his constituents in North Carolina,” the SBA List said in its endorsement.
“He has cosponsored crucial legislation including bills that would cut federal funding to abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood as well as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which calls for an end to abortions after the 20th week in pregnancy, when science has shown the unborn child can feel pain,” the an SBA List said.
The 20-week pain capable issue was the reason that many conservatives walked away from Ellmers.
Pro-life activists worked with medical researchers to verify that an unborn child feels pain by his 20th month in the womb. Pro-lifers made the case that banning abortions after the 20-week mark was not about life beginning at conception, rather it was about stopping torture.
The first big test of this construct was the Pain-Capable Bill set to pass the House Jan. 20, 2015, the day of the annual March for Life that starts with a rally at the Washington Monument and ends with a march up and down Capitol Hill.
In the evening before the march, Ellmers, who had always described herself as pro-life, led a revolt against the bill.
Many pro-lifers did not learn that the bill had been torpedoed until after the march, when they went into the Capitol and congressional office buildings to thank their representatives.
Holding said, “When you have the National Right to Life saying that no Member of Congress in recent history has done more to undermine the pro-life movement—that’s their quote—its pretty damning.”
In a blog posting 10 days after the bill was pulled from consideration without a vote, Ellmers explained her position. “While we must continue to provide a voice for the voiceless, we must also show compassion to women when they are in the midst of a crisis, especially victims of rape —and it is my belief that the mandatory police reporting provision relating to rape within the bill would have hindered our ability to do that,” she wrote.
The congresswoman also expressed her anger at the pro-life advocates from whom she was taking so much criticism. “I am appalled by the abhorrent and childish behaviors from some of the leaders of the outside groups. In the meantime, we will continue working to address our concerns with the bill’s mandatory provision that requires a victim of rape to report to law enforcement.”
After House Republican leaders took out the reporting requirement for underage pregnant women, the bill came to the floor and passed March 13, 2015, with Ellmers voting for it.
The congresswoman is not just a target for social conservatives.
Holding, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said, “When you vote for bad budget deals with Obama’s fingerprints all over them that does not make fiscal conservatives happy.”
The Club for Growth’s political wing is also working against her, said Doug Sachtleben, the club’s spokesman. “It is just one of those races, where we are not endorsing a candidate, but we had to get involved.” The group, Club for Growth Action spent $600,000 in TV ad buys and $100,000 in digital ad buys attacking Ellmers, he said.
Sachtleben said Ellmers’ lifetime Club for Growth rating was 60 percent. “It is the lowest in the North Carolina delegation. She is really becoming more and more liberal.”
Another group, the political wing of FreedomWorks, has organizers on the ground in the district working against Ellmers.
Kathy Hartkopf, a FreedomWorks operative, said, “Conservative activists repeatedly tell us that “Renee Ellmers is in the wrong party and that she sides with Nancy Pelosi as often as with her own party.” FreedomWorks is a logistics and operations hub for Tea Party and conservative activists around the country.
“Conservative activists in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District are determined to have a congressman who will not just talk the talk but who will actually walk the walk,” she said.
“Congressman Holding is the only proven conservative in the race, with a lifetime FreedomWorks score of 86, while Congressman Ellmers has a lifetime FreedomWorks score of 55,” she said.
Holding, once an aide to Sen. Jesse Helms (R.-N.C.) said he is confident and he loves being on the trail. “Campaigning in North Carolina is great,” he said. “Lots of barbecue, the weather’s nice—it’s pretty good.”