Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., has emerged as a major House GOP conservative player, drawing national attention for his brand of libertarianism. But Amash’s brand of conservatism is not sitting well in his home district. The Tea Party favorite is getting a challenge from the establishment wing of his party.
Brian Ellis, who describes himself as a conservative businessman from Kent County, Mich., announced he was a candidate for the Republican nomination in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District Tuesday, and immediately attacked Amash’s voting record.
“Congressman Amash refused to vote in favor of the Keystone Pipeline, and he even voted to allow our tax dollars to fund America’s largest abortion provider,” Ellis said in a statement. Ellis continued to attack the congressman for turning his back on “conservative principles by voting against the Paul Ryan budget.”
Elected in 2010, during the Tea Party wave, Amash has stood against GOP leadership multiple times during his time on the Hill. He was one of a dozen Republicans who voted against a second speaker term for House Speaker John Boehner, R- Ohio, and is a driving force behind the Tea Party faction that helped to force a government shutdown last week.
Amash is not only in trouble with his own party, but it seems he also lacks support, at least monetarily, from his own backers. A Sept. 28 post on the congressman’s Facebook page alluded to a lack of funding: “I have some bad news. At this moment, we remain $12,373 behind our quarterly minimum. And we’ve heard in the last few weeks that the Washington political class is scheming to take me out. If we don’t hit our minimum target, they will be emboldened to run a challenger against me,” Amash wrote.
(According to Federal Election Commission filings, Amash’s campaign had $164,000 cash on hand at the end of July.)
Amash’s primary challenge comes at an interesting time for moderates in the House, some of whom have been expressing support for voting on a “clean” resolution to fund the government.
Will Adams, of Amash for Congress, told ABC News that Ellis’ entering the race is “bizarre,” and the congressman’s campaign is “not worried” about the primary challenger.