The Sound and Fury of Political Endorsements Rock Amash’s World

Erika King, Ph.D., a political science professor at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, said even though three business organizations are backing Ellis, Amash still has the support of the Dick DeVos family, heir to the Amway Corp. fortune.

“And around here I think you could call them the establishment,” said King.

Detwiler said that while the endorsements don’t come close to mattering as much as individual votes on Election Day, they are still sending a message to Amash, and one that reminds him of David Brat’s victory in Virginia.

“Sometimes I think these endorsements can be kind of a wake-up call to the incumbent, shaking him up a bit. Maybe Justin (Amash) has not been communicating well or listening to some of his constituent groups,” said Detwiler.

“I think that (Cantor vs. Brat) primary election in Virginia could be a mirror to what could happen here,” said Ellis. “That was a representative who was out of touch with his district, and I think we have that going on right here. And we are going to find out what the people have to say about that pretty quick.”

The candidates are adding their own sound and fury to the GOP congressional primary race in Michigan’s second-largest city, Grand Rapids.

Amash has refused to debate Ellis on a Grand Rapids television station, because he said Ellis is “neither a serious nor credible candidate.”  Amash’s hometown newspaper, the Grand Rapids Press, described that as “insulting to voters.”

Ellis said Amash’s refusal to debate is “very arrogant on his part. Debates are an important part of the political process and he has a horrendous voting record that I would be happy to talk about.”

Detwiler said Amash’s refusal to debate is a classic strategy of an incumbent politician.

“The more you give opportunities for the challenger to be seen as equal with you, the more legitimacy you give to his campaign,” said Detwiler.

“I think Justin has taken away all of that opportunity from Ellis and also has avoided the opportunity to make some sort of a mistake in the debate.”

The most recent poll of voters in the 3rd Congressional District shows that Amash doesn’t have much to worry about, yet. He held a 42-23 percentage point advantage over Ellis in the Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) survey conducted May 27-29.

Megan Wells, the spokeswoman for the Ellis campaign, trumpeted the poll results, arguing that for an incumbent to be at 42 percent “shows what we have known all along — that Justin Amash is vulnerable.”

Neither the Amash congressional nor campaign offices returned calls asking for comment.

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