Exclusive — Ellmers Primary Challenger Frank Roche: She Has ‘Betrayed’ The District

AP Photo/Harry Hamburg
AP Photo/Harry Hamburg

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) has “betrayed” her district, conservative primary challenger Frank Roche tells Breitbart News exclusively. He’s launched a bid to oust her in a primary next year.

“Renee Ellmers has betrayed the conservatives of the Second District by repeatedly voting to increase federal spending, increase the debt ceiling, and even voting to fund President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty,” Roche said in an emailed statement. “Washington is broken and the people of the Second District want Bold Conservative Leadership to stand up to the big government progressives in both parties, not another go along to get along politician like Representative Ellmers.”

Roche, who nearly ousted Ellmers with hardly any resources last election cycle, launched his campaign for Congress in 2016 on with a bang. He has a new flashy website detailing why he’s the better candidate, complete with a well-produced and hard-hitting video announcing his campaign.

The video starts with footage of Ellmers—a nurse—in her nursing uniform from the campaign trail in 2010. “I’m Renee Ellmers and I’m running for Congress… I’m not a politician… I’m concerned about the direction of our country… I’m a conservative who wants to bring common sense and financial discipline to Washington,” Ellmers is seen on the video, shown on the screen of an old television with bad reception in the video.

The video then cuts to several news clips of Ellmers’ moments in the sun in Washington, where she’s led congressional pushes for Republicans to cave to abortion industry lobbyists, to amnesty advocates including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg—who through his outfit FWD.us has bankrolled ads in her district backing her—and more. Ellmers is also well known as an ally of House GOP leadership, especially House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Text then appears twice on screen. “Renee Ellmers no longer represents the people,” one spot says.

The next reads: “Renee Ellmers has surrendered to the Washington establishment.”

Ellmers has found herself on the wrong side of conservatives on numerous occasions throughout her short tenure thus far in Congress after winning an election in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave. Most notably, last year, she got into a high-profile brawl with a conservative radio host in which she labeled the host as “small-minded” and “ignorant” and even adopted the third person at one point to say “Renee Ellmers thinks for herself” when pressed on why she supports amnesty for illegal aliens and was using National Council of La Raza talking points on air.

Despite a push from some national conservatives like Ann Coulter toward the end of the primary race last spring, Roche was unsuccessful in taking down Ellmers. He had raised only $23,000 through mid-April—just a few weeks before the primary—while Ellmers had raised nearly $1 million.

Nonetheless, Roche got 42 percent, 15,045 votes, to Ellmers’ 58 percent, 21,412 votes. Zuckerberg’s FWD.us also spent $150,000 running ads to help Ellmers, arguing that “Renee Ellmers is a conservative fighter for North Carolina” and is “working hard to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system once and for all” with “no amnesty, period.”

Obviously, those positions as characterized in the pro-Ellmers Zuckerberg ads were not accurate as Ellmers has admitted she wants a “pathway to legal status” for illegal aliens which amounts to amnesty for illegally entering the United States.

“Despite the false statements in the FWD.us ads, Congresswoman Ellmers has made her position on illegal immigration clear,” Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA told Breitbart News at the time. “She supports granting legal status to illegal aliens, and that is amnesty. As we learned in 1986, amnesty only begets more illegal immigration.”

Since that episode, Ellmers has gone on to become an even bigger champion of big government policies usually support by Democrats. Ellmers, at the beginning of this Congress, was the first of 26 Republicans in the House to join all Democrats to vote against a measure from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) that defunded Obama’s first unconstitutional executive amnesty, the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive amnesty for illegal alien minors. She then turned around and voted against an amendment from Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) that would have defunded Obama’s executive amnesty from 2014 for adult illegal aliens.

Shortly thereafter, on the eve of the largely influential March for Life, Ellmers led a charge in the House to undermine the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that would have blocked abortions of babies in the uterus when those babies can feel pain, at around five months. The move infuriated the grassroots, and many pro-life leaders locked arms with anti-amnesty community conservatives vowing to take Ellmers out of Congress in the 2016 primary.

This time around, Roche is much more organized.

He’s got a year until the primary—plenty of time to campaign and expose the gaffe-prone Ellmers to accountability—but he’s already showing signs of an organized campaign effort proving he learned from the previous campaign’s failures.

He has brought Tidewater Strategies, a political consulting firm, on as general consultant. It’s run by Reilly O’Neal, an operative experienced in the worlds of grassroots insurgency having worked for North Carolina Senate candidate Greg Brannon last cycle before working for Rob Maness in Louisiana. O’Neal brings a team of sophisticated, talented and energetic young operatives with him, like Spencer Hardison—who worked for Maness last cycle. O’Neal will be putting together a much better digital and fundraising operation for Roche than last time, as well as building a ground game.


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