Politico is reporting that the super PAC backed by the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, is, for the first time ever, targeting an incumbent Republican in a primary: Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, who is facing fellow Congressman George Holding and former Senate candidate Greg Brannon in the Second District. She was drawn into the same district as Holding by the Republican legislature during the February special session.
AFP is not endorsing anyone in the race, but as its first ad— released today—shows, there's an implicit endorsement of Holding over Ellmers, who "became part of the Washington problem," according to the narrator. "Rep. Renee Ellmers has sadly become a part of the very Washington she once claimed she wanted to fix," AFP President Tim Phillips told Politico.
Ellmers was targeted even before she was drawn into a district with another Republican incumbent, facing National Review-endorsed and Club For Growth-backed candidate Jim Duncan and the RINO Hunter herself, Kay Daly. After the redistricting, Daly chose to run in the Thirteenth, and Duncan dropped his bid for Congress.
Ellmers, who endorsed Donald Trump for president, has been under fire from conservatives for the last few years after being elected in the Tea Party wave in 2010. After her election, Ellmers quickly aligned herself with the establishment wing of the Republican Party. Last October, after Republican House majority leader Kevin McCarthy declined to become John Boehner's successor as the Speaker of the House, rumors circulated that McCarthy and Ellmers were having an affair.
Ellmers released her own ad Thursday attacking George Holding for flying first-class on a taxpayer-funded trip to Jordan. From Politico:
“For Congress, we have a choice between a man who fancies cheese tortellini … and one powerful conservative in Renee Ellmers,” the radio ad says. “George Holding voted against the farm bill, against military funding to defeat ISIS. But Holding voted for cheese tortellini when selecting his meal for a recent first-class ticket on a trans-Atlantic flight that he billed to you, the taxpayer.”
UPDATE: Ellmers' campaign responded to our request for comment, but didn't mention the ad or AFP, choosing instead to focus on Holding.
"George Holding has spent the past three years masquerading as a conservative, all while charging taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for first class tickets so he can travel the world in style," Ellmers' senior advisor Patrick Sebastian told the INDY. "Holding should be ashamed of himself for abusing taxpayers like he has as our national debt approaches $20 trillion."