Zuckerberg immigration group claims win in NC

The immigration reform advocacy group co-founded by Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg notched a win in Tuesday night's GOP primary in North Carolina.

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), who has backed "earned legal work status" for people who came to the country illegally, beat off a primary challenge from former Wall Street trader Frank Roche, in a race seen as an early indication of the role immigration would play in this year's GOP primaries.

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Ellmers, elected to Congress amid the Tea Party wave in 2010, was the favorite in the race for the 2nd District, but had drawn opposition for her stance on immigration reform.

"Despite being attacked by those opposed to commonsense immigration reform, Congresswoman Ellmers consistently articulated a solution to fix our broken immigration system, and tonight her constituents made clear their support for her leadership by overwhelmingly voting for her over her anti-immigrant primary opponent," FWD.us president Joe Green said in a statement.

“Congresswoman Ellmers’ commanding primary victory makes clear: the time is now for House Republicans to bring immigration reform legislation to a vote.”

The FWD.us affiliate supporting conservatives, Americans for a Conservative Direction, had backed Ellmers with a $200,000 TV ad calling her a "conservative fighter for North Carolina" earlier this year. The ad outlined her efforts to fight the federal deficit, support for North Carolina military bases and "fix our broken immigration system once and for all" while still offering "no amnesty, period."

The ad effort came days after a heated exchange with radio host Laura Ingraham, who accused Ellmers of taking "a liberal line" on the issue.

Ingraham has pushed lawmakers to sign a pledge opposing three core measures in President Obama's immigration reform plan, which Ellmers has refused to sign.

Roche signed the pledge from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

The Democrat primary to challenge Ellmers in the general election, which featured former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken, was too close to call with nearly all votes counted late on Tuesday. 

Whoever emerges as the victor will be considered the underdog in November. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney carried the district by 16 percentage points in 2012.