WASHINGTON – One-time tea-party heroine Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., lost her bid for re-election Tuesday, becoming the first GOP congressional incumbent to lose a seat in 2016.
Ellmers lost favor with her base after being elected in the 2010 Republican takeover of the U.S. House when she curried favor with the former Speaker John Boehner’s leadership team.
She lost Tuesday to challenger Rep. George Holding, who previously represented another district. With 64 percent of the precincts reporting, Ellmers was battling for second place with Greg Brannon. Holding held a commanding lead with 50 percent of the vote.
Donald Trump backed Ellmers to the dismay of 2016 tea-party activists. Brannon was backed by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
In recent weeks, Ellmers became the target of intense opposition from conservative groups who once supported her initial rise to office, including the Americans for Prosperity, the Club For Growth and anti-abortion groups. They say Ellmers failed to follow through on the commitment to conservative values she promoted when first elected.
Americans for Prosperity touted its role in the defeat of Ellmers.
State Director Donald Bryson offered the following statement: “Renee Ellmers lost her job because she abandoned the limited-government principles she originally espoused. It’s clear that 2nd district voters oppose her record of voting for special interests handouts and wasteful spending. Ellmers learned the hard way that North Carolinians care about principle more than politicians, and won’t keep politicians who become unprincipled. Rep. Ellmers went to Congress and wasted no time becoming part of the Washington problem. While we congratulate Congressman George Holding, we’ll also urge him to continue to focus on cutting wasteful spending and ending special interest handouts. Americans for Prosperity will continue to hold politicians from both parties accountable to these basic principles of a free economy.”
The group said the “final straw” for her was support of the Export-Import Bank, “the ultimate example of crony capitalism.”