Rep. Renee Ellmers, the North Carolina Republican who led the charge to pull the House GOP’s 20-week abortion ban bill this week, could have a bruising primary from the conservative wing of her party in 2016.
Jim Duncan, the chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party, is mulling a bid against Ellmers, according to multiple GOP sources in the Tar Heel State.
Duncan could not immediately be reached for comment. But GOP operatives say Duncan was looking at a primary challenge against Ellmers before this week. Operatives say Thursday’s events — in which a group of anti-abortion protesters in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life demonstrated outside her Longworth office — could push Duncan toward entering a primary race.
Ellmers already started the 2016 cycle with a couple cracks in her hold on the seat.
In 2014, local activists were angry over her support for giving undocumented immigrants earned legal work status, and she received a primary challenge. She defeated Frank Roche, a radio host whom Republicans called a weak and underfunded challenger, with 58 percent of the vote.
Republicans say Duncan, a retired businessman who ran a computer disaster recovery company, is a more serious candidate than Roche. Duncan has better ties to the conservative base in the district, both because of his role as chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party and as a co-founder of the Coalition for American Principles, a group that seeks to elect Republicans in the Raleigh-Durham area.
Those in the GOP establishment who eschew the core principles of the conservative base may want to pay attention to what is happening to Congresswoman Ellmers these past few days. Once a Tea Party movement darling because she is a medical professional who was vehemently opposed to Obamacare, a couple of missteps on immigration and abortion have now cast a cloud on her future. Contrary to general establishment thinking, the base isn’t comprised of a bunch of rubes in the hinterlands who are out of touch. When they’re disgruntled, they can get loud in a hurry.
Someone might want to write that on a triplicate memo and post it to Reince Priebus’s door.