Renee Ellmers has an election today – and she’s in trouble.
A Republican congresswoman from North Carolina elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, Ellmers is facing two primary challengers after an irregular mid-decade redistricting.
But the two opposing candidates are not her only challenges. She’s also the target of at least six-figures of spending in political ads and grassroots organizing by an amalgam of special interest groups itching to oust her for her record.
The outrageous voting behavior in question? Her willingness to compromise to get bills passed.
In her six years in Congress, her votes strayed from the GOP agenda only a handful of times, but that was enough to set off special interest groups, like the Susan B. Anthony List, the National Right to Life, the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity to wage war on her re-election. The Club for Growth labeled Ellmers an “establishment liberal.” The president of the AFP claimed that Ellmers caved to special interests. The irony couldn’t be more evident.
These special interest groups acknowledge that they are making an “example” of Ellmers for her Republican colleagues: if they abdicate their allegiance to their donors and their agenda, they, too, will face a primary challenge with unlimited financial backing.
If our lawmakers have to worry about a six-figure primary challenge after every vote they cast, they are not free to lead. They can’t fight for their constituents or help their districts without wealthy and politically-influential backers breathing down their necks.
Whether Ellmers emerges victorious or not, the message of her primary is clear: our lawmakers are not free to stray from special interests, even on one vote.