NC-02: Amnesty IS the elephant in the room

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US House Speaker John Boehner says he’s ready to get amnesty done, and it appears Renee Ellmers wants to help.   Boehner and Ellmers have done something akin to dumping chum in a shark tank — injecting a very controversial issue into a race in a relatively safe GOP district with a Republican incumbent.  

Big business types across the state and the nation have been pressuring Ellmers and other Republicans in Congress to support amnesty.   Many Tea Partiers are hoping that she’ll be as aggressive and enthusiastic about passing amnesty as she was about repealing ObamaCare. 

She has a low-budget, lesser-known primary opponent in radio host and economics professor Frank Roche.  Re-election in this district should be a cakewalk for a GOP incumbent.  But Ellmers’ embrace of House leaders —  and her support of their positions on ObamaCare, the debt ceiling, federal spending, and amnesty — have helped add a lot of drama to a race that really shouldn’t have had any. The fiscally-conservative Club For Growth has identified Ellmers as having the second most-liberal voting record among North Carolina’s Republicans in Congress.

Adding to those problems has been her low level of public visibility in the district. wall

Roche has been ginning up a lot of enthusiasm among district residents for his criticisms of the amnesty deal being pushed by congressional Republican leaders.  He’s been endorsed by anti-amnesty groups like NC Listen and ALIPAC. Roche has compensated for his small campaign treasury by implementing a grassroots campaign strategy dominated by town hall meetings.

Democrats actually have an interesting primary here in the district  — headlined by former state commerce secretary Keith Crisco and pop music star Clay Aiken.   The national Democrat Party has actually identified this year’s 2nd district race as ‘competitive.’

In 2010, Ellmers rode enthusiastic Tea Party support to eke out an upset victory in a Democrat-leaning district over incumbent Democrat Bob Etheridge.  Since then, her relationship with grassroots conservatives has eroded dramatically.

It can be argued that Ellmers won in 2010 because (1) her name was not Bob, and (2) she was not on video trying to choke two kids on a sidewalk in broad daylight.   This year, a case could be made that the winner pulls out the victory in the 2nd district because their name is NOT Renee.