One of the leaders of the Tea Party in the House, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, is being targeted for defeat in the GOP primary by some prominent businessmen in his district.
Brian Ellis, who founded an investment advisory firm, has entered the race and is running as a more “traditional” Republican — pro life, low taxes, strong military, and expanded energy production. Several business leaders in Western Michigan have expressed anger at Amash for his stands on the government shutdown, as well as other votes that they feel a traditional Republican would have taken.
“[Amash] and a small group of like-minded legislators rejected Speaker Boehner’s plea to pass legislation requiring Congress and the president be subject to ObamaCare, and put on hold the special new tax on medical equipment. This irresponsible action hurt over 50 great West Michigan businesses and was part of the chaos that led the nation to the edge of default,” the letter says.
The letter was printed on Ellis’s campaign stationery.
“These are folks I’ve known for a long time, and they’re excited about my candidacy,” Ellis told The Hill.
Ellis said his supporters have expressed frustration with the conservative wing of the GOP and the shutdown strategy.
“To a large degree, they’re not happy with the faction that my opponent represents,” he said.
“I’m hearing it from everybody. [The shutdown was] no way to run a country. It’s no way to govern.”
Amash is among a rebel bloc of House Republicans who pushed Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to make stand on ObamaCare in the fight over the government shutdown and the debt ceiling.
The tactic infuriated business groups, several of which have threatened to enter into GOP primaries in order to defeat hardliners in the GOP.
Amash has also been a thorn in the side of leadership, and was one of a handful of Republicans who orchestrated a failed attempt to oust Boehner earlier this year.
A “traditional” Republican, Amash is not. He is one of the few unabashed libertarians in the House, a supporter of failed presidential candidate Ron Paul, and a strong voice for privacy rights and non-interventionism.
And even with some “traditional” Republican groups, Amash is doing fine:
“He’s the gold standard of principled constitutionalism in Congress,” said Dean Clancy, the vice president of public policy at FreedomWorks.
“We have heard that the K-Street establishment wants to knock him off — and we intend to defend him punch-for-punch.”
An aide to Amash’s congressional campaign said the letter’s signatories don’t speak for the Grand Rapids business community, and noted that the congressman has substantial business support.
Executives at direct-selling giant Amway, for example, are backing Amash.
The Amash campaign shared with The Hill a letter from Doug DeVos, Amway’s president, calling on donors to support the lawmaker. In addition, Steve Van Andel, Amway’s chairman who also chairs the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, has already contributed the maximum $5,200 allowed to Amash’s campaign for the 2014 election cycle.
The National Federation of Independent Business previously endorsed Amash, and a spokesman for the group said while it hadn’t made a decision on the race this cycle, the group wouldn’t endorse his opponent because Amash has had such a strong record on the group’s issues in Congress.
The NFIB can hardly be considered a bastion of Tea Party Republicanism and DeVos has supported Republicans down the line through the years. Amash will have support not only for his leadership, but because he’s an incumbent and will get the lion’s share of donations.
Nor are these businessmen supporting Ellis creatures of K Street lobbyists. Three of the businessmen who signed the Ellis fundraising appeal — Mark Bissell, J.C. Huizenga and Mike Jandernoa — are all successful businessmen with local ties to Grand Rapids.
Does this guy Ellis sound like a RINO?
“I will advance conservative solutions by voting to balance the budget, reduce the tax burden, expand American energy sources, and defend the right to life and our Constitution,” Ellis said in a statement.
Not hardly. Two Republicans — both able and accomplished men — who believe in basically the same things are going to savage each other for several months, draining campaign resources better spent on the general election. If that isn’t the definition of stupid, I don’t know what is.