On the last day of January, we told you about congresswoman Renee Ellmers’ taxpayer-funded constituent mailings that bear a striking resemblance to campaign literature — stuff that is not supposed to be paid for with government money.
Well, she’s at it again. I got this piece (front and back and franking info) in the mail yesterday. I’ve had members of Congress mail me newsletters throughout the years via their franked mail privileges. I just haven’t seen any with the gall to send me something so blatantly political at government expense. Maybe she’s getting off the hook on a technicality — putting her congressional office addresses and phone numbers and web site address on the mailing. But the timing — the week before filing begins, and after numerous primary and general election opponents have announced their intentions — is highly dubious. It’s ONE THING to campaign on the government dime, it’s ANOTHER THING ALTOGETHER to campaign on the government dime AND LIE while you’re doing it.
Her GOP primary challenger Frank Roche is making hay of this type of thing, as well as Ellmers’ advocacy for the House leadership’s amnesty proposal. Former state commerce secretary Keith Crisco’s bid for the Democrat nomination to challenger Ellmers in November is being upstaged by Clay Aiken’s entry into the Democrat field. The pop star’s deep pockets and name ID will make him quite formidable in the Democrat primary – and possibly in November. He’s come out of the gate with an ad that paints a very folksy, moderate, sympathetic picture. He’s criticizing Obama, and bashing Ellmers for “cuts to the military.”
Ellmers, for her part, is looking past her primary foe Roche and aiming her fire at Aiken. On a radio show, she mocked Aiken for his performance on American Idol. Ellmers’ campaign spokesman also took a shot at Aiken — suggesting that he had more in common with San Francisco than Sanford. (Why not our very own liberal bastions — Chapel Hill or Carrboro — instead?)
San Francisco is known for its rather large homosexual community. Aiken — shocking nobody — announced in 2008 that he is gay. Aiken has not made gay rights, or his sexual identity, an issue. It would be a mistake for Ellmers and her campaign to go there.
It will be tough for Ellmers to play the social conservative card, anyway. She and Aiken agreed in their opposition to the state constitution’s marriage amendment in 2012.
It could be a big mistake for Ellmers to be looking past Roche and the May primary. In 2012, Ellmers had a very lackluster showing against three poorly-funded unknown primary challengers. (She lost one whole county in the district, and showed rather modestly here in Moore County.) Frank Roche has his weak spots, but he is an aggressive campaigner who has learned a lot from his 2010 and 2012 campaigns for other offices. From what I hear, he’s making some serious inroads in the district. Ellmers’ pro-amnesty efforts are helping Roche out greatly.