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Who’s RINO Now? Primary Challenger Says Amash Isn’t Conservative Enough

3rd District race in Michigan comes down to “two very different definitions of what it means to be a Republican.”

by
Rod Kackley

Bio

May 9, 2014 - 1:14 pm
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — “We’ll just see about that,” said Brian Ellis.

“You are right, we will just see about that,” said Justin Amash.

Is this any way for adult Republicans to talk to each other?

It is when one Republican, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, surprises the other, primary challenger Brian Ellis, by calling into a live radio talk show to defend his record. The verbal sparring was just one more highlight in a campaign in which the candidates are calling each other RINOs, and believing they are battling for not only a U.S. House seat but also the soul of the Republican Party.

Amash and Ellis are locked in an epic GOP congressional primary race in Michigan’s conservative 3rd Congressional District, where a Democrat hasn’t won the presidential election since the LBJ landslide buried Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Brian Ellis, the president of Grand Rapids-based Brooktree Capital Management, whose only political experience is his 15 years on the suburban East Grand Rapids school board, entered the primary in August 2014 because he believes Amash — a Tea Party favorite — is not conservative enough.

“Amash talks the game, but doesn’t vote the game,” Ellis said.

Amash, a 33-year-old attorney, was the second-youngest member of the U.S. House when he won the November 2010 election. The second-generation Arab-American served in the Michigan House of Representatives before he won his first GOP primary in 2010. Amash defeated Patrick Miles — a Democrat who was a Harvard University classmate of President Barack Obama — the following November.

Amash campaigned as a “principled conservative” and has described himself as a Libertarian, sending birthday cards to former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who reciprocated with a two-day fundraiser that pulled in $100,000 for Amash.

After easily winning reelection in 2012, Amash, along with Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), tried to unseat House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The coup failed. Amash was kicked off the House Budget Committee, something he described on his Facebook page as “a slap in the face.”

It must have felt like a punch in the gut when not one single Michigan Republican in Congress donated even one thin dime to the Amash campaign in the first quarter of 2014.

The Detroit News reported at least two retiring congressmen gave money to Ellis, though, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) came close to endorsing Ellis.

Hardly surprising if only because of the failed coup attempt, but House leadership isn’t backing Amash either.

However, Boehner isn’t the only Republican who has had it with Amash. Karl Rove has called him the “most liberal Republican” in Congress. National Journal branded Amash the fifth most liberal Republican in Congress in 2013, and said he was the Republican who voted least often with his party.

Ellis’ main campaign theme is Amash is not conservative enough and has a record of “bizarre” votes.

“If you have somebody that doesn’t vote for a balanced budget amendment, didn’t support the Keystone pipeline, didn’t vote for a small-business tax cut, didn’t support the pro-life agenda on critical votes, who’s the RINO?” said Ellis.

Amash argues Ellis is misleading voters by dredging up years-old votes and “mischaracterizing” them.

“You pretend that I am not conservative. You think you are going to fool anyone with that?” Amash said when he called the radio talk show to defend his record against Ellis’ attacks.

Ellis has been branded as a RINO by RedState and an Amash campaign team member, who requested anonymity, said the conservative blog got it right.

Top Rated Comments   
Well, the good news is...Rand Paul won't be asking anyone for a voter ID, he thinks they offend people.

I don't know who is a RINO...but Rand Paul vs Jeb Bush vs Chris Christy...we could have our candidate walking arm in arm with Obama to swing open the gates of the border and handing out ballots to everyone who comes rushing in...in every language except English.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (30)
All Comments   (30)
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Amash has demonstrated his cred. by taking the slings and arrows of the Establishment for some years now, this other guy I don't know, but he is probably an Establishment plant.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"RINO" is all in the eye of the beholder. If you're a Paulite, you think that DefCons are all traitorous RINOs who'll sell out liberty for the joy of invading third world countries. If you're s SoCon, you think Paulites are RINOs because they support godless policies like legalization of drugs and prostitution. If you're a FisCon, you think DefCons are RINOs because they're willing to tax us into oblivion to fund their big armies, airforces, and navies. On and on. Immigration Cons think Paulites are RINOs because they oppose government enforcement of immigration rules, and that SoCons are RINOs because they are too soft-headed to come down hard on illegals. There are many more combinations of RINOs, and anyone who fancies themself a professional RINO-hunter can be part of any one leg of the GOP conservative stool (some say 3 legs, others say 4).

Everybody needs to take a deep breath and realize that the GOP is a coaltion of competing interests. Some are more likely to be "across the board" conservatives, respecting the differences between each of the camps, and others are just desk-pounding, shouting single issuers who believe anybody who doesn't agree with them 100% is a RINO. The latter aren't very helpful or productive in defeating liberal Dems and enacting conservative policies.

Ronald Reagan was perhaps the most successful across-the-board "big tent" Republican in Presidential history. But he was a rarity in being able to reach across the many constituencies in the GOP coalition. And even the sainted RR still suffered many slings and arrows from the Richard Vigueries and Pat Buchanans and Ron Pauls of the right.

11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Does it really make any difference which candidate is more RINO than the other?"

Absolutely!

"Amash is a Paulite libertarian"

Well that makes him far better than any RINO, at we can be sure he wants to shrink government.

"(regarding the government shutdown) Was Ted Cruz wrong? Probably; definitely wasn't politically smart. Was the Tea Party wrong? Same answer."

They not only weren't wrong, it was the best thing that could be done. Boehner was wrong to give up the sequester.

"Akin/O'Donnel/Mourdock/Angle/Bevin"

Akin had nothing to do with the Tea Party, and your lumping them together shows your false colors. If the GOP had supported the other four evenhandedly, then at least one of them likely would have won, leaving the country better off--but not the GOP Establishment.

Which is the real point.

"the two quotes from Amash saying "corporations" reminds me of the Matt Damon puppet in Team America (corporate corporations are so corporation-ey) sounds like left-lean Dog-whistle to me"

Sounds like someone thinks the GOP should be into crony capitalism.

You RINOs are just fighting for your turn at the trough.

The actual conservatives want to empty it. That means voting against big business, and on the market's behalf, getting out of the way of entrepreneurs.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
There's a lot of he-said, he-said in this, but not much specific about liberal votes Amash supposedly cast. In other words, no background, no perspective.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Justin Amash's votes are routinely consistent with his stated philosophy, look it up yourself, and remember he is a Libertarian, libertarians and conservatives are going to disagree from time to time, don't let Statists divide you.

anyone who's overall political philosophy calls for less government and less government power is my political ally no matter what letter is after their name.

Statists, Progressives, crony-capitalists are the enemy, not small government-loving, freedom-minded people whether they call themselves conservative or libertarian.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
The fact that Karl Rove doesn't like Amash is good enough for me - I'd vote for Amash!

Can't go wrong if you oppose Karl Rove can you?

11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Amash is a Paulite libertarian, not a conservative. Karl Rove is not the enemy of conservatives - he is a lifelong conservative ... and I'm pretty sure you didn't jump off the Rove bandwagon when he was helping Republican candidates get elected and re-elected President and helped produce a Republican majority in both houses of Congress back in the '00s.

You just don't like Rove because he opposes un-electable Tea Party cranks. Well, better get used to it, because rank and file Republican voters throughout the country also don't like un-electable Tea Party cranks either - they've being voted down in droves in the primaries so far, and that's expected to continue based on polling so far.

Rove is on the other hand quite happy supporting conservatives who are electable and not cranks (Akin/O'Donnel/Mourdock/Angle/Bevin types). Rove's main concern is electing conservative Republicans, not kowtowing to the Washington DC beltway fake tea party organizations who only take your money and spend it on themselves.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Karl Rove is not the enemy of conservatives - he is a lifelong conservative"

WRONG!
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think this article as written by one of Karl Rove's nephews or grandchildren who want in on the will. Elementary school age I imagine. The writer knows just how to put a smile on Uncle Karl's face.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Really - are you so knee jerk that you are unable to comprehend English writing in this post? The writer made no editorial comments whatsoever, attacking or supporting either candidate. The post provide information, and even the headline itself was in the form of a question, as in "who is who?" The reader is free to make up his or her own mind.

Your mindset is all too typical of the mindless rino-hunters of the far right/extreme libertarian crowd. You're hardly better or more discerning than the average lynch mob.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Establishment Republicans, like Mitch McConnell have been skimming money from the lobbyists and the Chamber of Commerce. The proof is that he has accumulated 27.2 Million in his war chest!!! Where do you think that money came from. He doesn't want the gravy train to end and has because the tea party congressmen refuse to play his game....he has vowed to kill them off!!! So if you choose to believe that Justin Amash is not conservative enough you are totally wrong!!!
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I believe Justin Amash is a Strong Conservative. The reason nothing is passed in this Congress is totally the fault of Harry Reid! Even the Rinos are complaining about him. He has killed 84 Republican bills over the last few years. He has killed 14 this year alone. Why do people who have no idea how the government works, continue to comment and give out false information. The government was not closed down by the Republicans....it was shut down because Obama refused to negotiate with anyone. That is part of being in Congress. Instead, the Establishment caved in and blamed the Tea Party! The tea party was trying to warn the American People that there was a problem with the insurance that was about to be unleased upon us! Was Ted Cruz wrong??? Was the Tea Party wrong??? So don't keep blaming the tea party for shutting down the government.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
If Texan Rove is against him, then I'm for him. The fact that Amash attempted to unseat Boehner works for him. You can't have a revolt without putting a few of the leaders up against the wall (figuratively). Anything less than this is what brought us to this point.
If you feel go-along Boehner, Cantor and the others in Congress, or McConnell, McCain and Graham in the Senate are conservatives, you might want to buy a clue. The hypocrisy of these people is astounding! Just think of McCain stuttering "just shut the darn fence". And shaking his fist as if he really meant it. Pleease! And today he's crying for amnesty? Really steadfast, you know.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
So could the author help us out here? What are the real political positions of theses two people? Can all of this perhaps be explained by Amash's effort to take down Boehner? Genuine conservatives all over the country are being attacked as not conservative enough at the moment--in the cases of two I know about, Ben Sasse and Matt Lynch, with bald lies.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
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