House races

Ellmers loses primary after being targeted by conservative groups

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Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) is projected to win his House GOP primary against Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), making Ellmers the first incumbent Republican in the House to lose a primary this year.
The Associated Press called the race for Holding at about 8:30 p.m. EDT.
Ellmers, elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave, was targeted by conservative groups including the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by GOP donors Charles and David Koch.
{mosads}Holding and Ellmers ran against each other as incumbents due to state redistricting.
The Susan B. Anthony list, an anti-abortion-rights group, endorsed Holding over Ellmers — a former ally — in the first instance ever of the organization backing a male candidate over a woman. 
Ellmers’s involvement last year in a push to temporarily stall legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks ended up haunting her in the primary. 
Multiple female GOP lawmakers, including Ellmers, withheld support for the original iteration of the bill due to concerns it treated rape victims unfairly.
Redistricting made winning the primary even tougher for Ellmers, as half of the district she was now running for was previously represented by Holding.
A court order directed North Carolina’s state legislature to redraw congressional districts after concluding that the current boundaries were gerrymandered to limit the representation of African-Americans in Congress. 
The House primary elections were subsequently moved to June 7 to give time for candidates to adjust to the newly drawn districts. However, holding the election separate from the March 15 presidential and Senate primaries was expected to result in low voter turnout Tuesday.
In an effort to promote her grassroots credentials, Ellmers was one of the first Republicans in Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president. 
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee returned the favor, endorsing Ellmers a few days before Tuesday’s primary and recording robocalls on her behalf. 
Holding nonetheless edged out Ellmers in fundraising, according to Federal Election Commission records through mid-May. Ellmers had raised $1.3 million, compared to Holding’s $1.6 million.
Ellmers’s defeat will reduce the ranks of female GOP lawmakers. Out of 246 House Republicans, only 23 are women.
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) became the first incumbent lawmaker to lose a primary earlier this year amid a federal indictment alleging corruption and money laundering.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) also faced tough primary challenges this cycle, but managed to narrowly win their party’s nominations.
Otherwise, anger at Washington fueling the candidacies of Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders hasn’t translated into toppling incumbents in Congress.
Tags Americans for Prosperity Bernie Sanders Club for Growth Donald Trump Kevin Brady North Carolina Susan B. Anthony List
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