Pro-Amnesty GOP House Member Loses with Less Than 25 Percent of the Vote

By David North on June 8, 2016

In an odd primary contest, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, who had cast an odd vote (for a Republican) in favor of amnesty, lost to another sitting GOP member in North Carolina on Tuesday. So far in this election year, she is the first Republican House member to lose a primary.

Races between sitting members of Congress of the same party are unusual, but not without precedent.

In a strange twist, Rep. Renee Ellmers lost despite the fact that she had been endorsed by Donald Trump; she was said to be the only candidate for Congress to be endorsed by him in a primary contest. (A more traditional candidate for president would not have taken sides in a primary contest between two incumbents belonging to his party.)

Ellmers was in a three-way contest with two more conservative, male Republicans. The winner was Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.); the two members had been forced into a single district by the GOP-controlled state legislature, which had to redraw the lines because a federal court found that they had gerrymandered the previous set of lines to help Republicans and hurt Democrats.

I don't have the details, but when state legislators vote to put two members of the same party in a single district, they usually know which one of them they want to win, and draw the lines accordingly.

Ellmers had infuriated pro-life organizations by voting to delay a measure that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks; a position she later abandoned. Her pro-amnesty vote in 2015, which we reported as puzzling at the time, came as she was one of a handful of Republicans who voted against a measure that was critical of the administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. (Most of the other Republicans voting that way had large numbers of Hispanics in their districts)

Ms. Ellmers, according to the Charlotte News and Observer, barely came in second, getting less than 25 percent of the primary vote.

The primary took place in the state's second congressional district, which is expected to be retained by Holding in the fall.


Topics: Politics