Rebel Leader Justin Amash Wins Big In Michigan
Rebellious Republican Rep. Justin Amash has won his primary re-election battle in Michigan’s 3rd district against his challenger Brian Ellis, a blow to the GOP Establishment which had put significant resources into the race.
Ellis conceded the race as Amash had 55 percent of the vote and Ellis had 44 percent with 44 percent of the precincts reporting.
Allies of Speaker John Boehner had rallied for pro-establishment candidate Republican Brian Ellis and to take out Amash, the first lawmaker to vote against Boehner for speaker on the House floor in January 2013.
Ellis, a Grand Rapids businessman, loaned his campaign over $1 million and earned the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
Ellis used his money for an onslaught of negative ads that painted Amash as "Al Qaeda's best friend" and accused the pro-life congressman of voting to allow “gender-selection abortions to continue."
After winning his 2010 election, Amash went to Congress at the age 30 making him the second-youngest sitting congressman in Congress.
Amash drew support from the liberty movement - one that viewed the retiring Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) as their champion in Congress. He is also chair of the Liberty Caucus, a group of House Republicans who meet bi-weekly outside of the larger conservative Republican Study Committee.
"Most of us, if not all of us, are RSC members as well. But when working with like-minded people, you need something a little more nimble that doesn't dilute its positions because of the size of the group,” Amash explained to the National Journal.
Facing a tough re-election campaign, Amash also sought endorsements from many conservative allies - including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
"Washington needs more conservatives with backbone, more conservatives like Justin Amash," Cruz said in a radio ad aired in Michigan supporting Amash. He was also supported by the Club for Growth, which advertised heavily on his behalf.
A critical Karl Rove called Amash the "most liberal Republican” because of his libertarian views.
Amash also prides himself for explaining every one of his votes on Facebook.
But Amash has also made enemies among fellow Republicans, thanks to an amendment to defund the National Security Agency. His bill failed by a narrow margin in a vote of 205-217, but boosted his profile among privacy advocates.
That put him at odds with Rep. Mike Rogers, of Michigan’s 8th district who is also the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. But Rogers stunned his colleagues in March after he announced his plans to retire from Congress and instead host a national radio talk show.
Rogers endorsed Mike Bishop in the primary to replace him. Bishop won easily against Tom McMillin, the Republican candidate backed by Amash. With 73 percent reporting, Bishop was announced the winner with 59 percent of the vote against McMillin’s 41 percent.