One of the first people I bumped into at Saturday’s Moore GOP event was our new Member of Congress, Renee Ellmers of Dunn. Ellmers won a close race in 2010 against a 14 year Democrat incumbent thanks, in large part, to the work of The Tea Party and this video. Some supporters from her 2010 campaign are how experiencing buyer’s remorse over what they see as her abandonment of The Tea Party and alliance with Speaker John Boehner and the House leadership.
I have to give Ellmers some credit. She stood her ground and fielded EVERY question — in a frank and honest manner — that I, and some associates, peppered her with.
The congresswoman was told that people want to see more video of her getting in the faces of Barney Frank and Henry Waxman, and less footage of her at the right hand of House leadership. Ellmers denied accusations that she had deserted The Tea Party for the warm embrace of Speaker Boehner:
“Look. He’s my boss. How successful am I going to be at work if I am always causing problems for the boss?”
Upon seeing our looks of disbelief, she quickly corrected herself:
“Actually, you folks are my boss. Still — we have a lot of important issues facing the country. How are we going to get ANYTHING done in Washington without working together?”
Ellmers has taken some grief for her vote to raise the federal debt ceiling. She said the final legislation she voted for — one she said was strongly promoted by Tea Party favorite and U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) — included important provisions like Cut, Cap and Balance as well as a weakening of ObamaCare:
“Sure we added to the deficit … But that vote was all about getting our bills paid.”
The Dunn Republican said a lot of Tea Party frustrations can be alleviated by putting the U.S. Senate and The White House in GOP hands. Ellmers was quickly reminded that the GOP had complete control of the federal government from 2000-2006, and the country was “rewarded’‘ with growth in government, a spending explosion, and a Democrat takeover of Congress. She countered:
“I think some hard lessons were learned from that. I believe things will be different this time. I, and my fellow freshman members, were not around then.”
Ellmers knew that she and her fellow Republicans had taken some hits for caving to BarryO and the Dems on the payroll tax cut. The congresswoman said that — if the tax cut had not been extended — Americans would have experienced a tax increase in the middle of a tough recession. The Republican said many in her caucus are wary of fighting with Democrats on things like the debt ceiling and the payroll tax. Ellmers said many veteran Republican legislators remember the pummeling the party took in the media for the 1995 “government shutdown.”
The congresswoman has also taken some hits from former supporters over her publicly-stated opposition to the May constitutional referendum on the definition of marriage.
Ellmers faces multiple primary challengers, like Clement Munno of Aberdeen and Sonya Holmes of Broadway, in May. At least two strong, viable Republicans — each with the ability to self-finance a credible House campaign — are keeping their powder dry, for now, and waiting to see what 2014 looks like.
The congresswoman has some time to smooth things over and make amends with The Tea Party. But she needs to keep in mind that — while she’s doing that — the vultures are circling overhead and the wolves are baying at the door.