Nasty House Race in Michigan Brings al-Qaeda into the Mix

“Ted Cruz is seen as a national leader in the conservative movement,” said Ben VanderVeen, a campaign spokesman for Amash. “It’s great to have support from guys like him.”

The Cruz endorsement came days after a poll conducted by Strategic National, a Grand Rapids-based company, showed Amash leads Ellis by 23 points, the widest margin to date in the campaign, 47-24 percent.

It was also a good fundraising spring for Amash. He raised $272,000 in the second quarter according to the Federal Election Commission, while Ellis loaned his campaign $400,000.

“Brian Ellis runs his campaign like he’d run our government: fueled by big spending, driven by lies, and loaded with debt,” said Connie Lemmink, communications director for the Amash campaign. “It turns out running on Obamacare expansion, Common Core, and NSA spying isn’t a winning strategy.”

Ellis is not giving up. With only days to go before Michigan’s Aug. 5 primary, the Ellis campaign began running the anti-Amash al-Qaeda ad.

The ad stars a former U.S. Marine, Ben Thomas, who accuses Amash of having the worst record in Congress on issues of concern to military veterans and says, “I am outraged by Justin Amash”

“We reached out to a network of local veterans to ask if someone would be willing to step forward about Amash's awful voting record when it comes to veterans and Ben offered to do so,” said Megan Wells, the communications director of the Ellis campaign.

Thomas won the casting call.

Wells also stressed that it wasn’t the Ellis campaign calling Amash “al-Qaeda’s Best Friend in Congress,” even though the statement is part of an Ellis campaign ad.

“The statement regarding Amash being al-Qaeda's best friend in Congress, is a direct quote from Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA),” said Wells.

She’s right. Nunes went off on Amash in a May 2014 interview with Politico: “He’s (Amash) been fanning the flames, and it gets to the point where my assessment is this is a guy willing to work with San Francisco Democrats to protect bait fish, and at the same time he’s al-Qaeda’s best friend in the Congress."

The Tampa Bay found that while Amash might have voted against his party’s leadership more than once, “we found two sources that showed that Amash has sided with Republicans upward of 80 percent of the time. That may be lower than many of his colleagues, and we found found a few high-profile examples of his voting against his own party. But by the numbers, he votes far more often with Republicans than Democrats.”

Joe Cunningham, one of the bloggers, came to Amash’s defense June 6 when he wrote, “(It) seems to be a really petty attempt to knock down the young’un. … Apparently, party purity is only acceptable when it conforms with the Establishment views.”

(For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)