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Conservative groups are celebrating after they helped end Republican North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers's political career in Washington.
"Tonight sends a clear message to lawmakers that we're going to hold them accountable for overspending and corporate welfare," said Americans For Prosperity President Tim Phillips.
"Voters saw through Rep. Ellmers' support for the Ex-Im Bank and other subsidies and decided they were better off with Rep. Holding. We agree," Phillips added, in a statement to The Hill Tuesday night, shortly after the Associated Press declared Ellmers had lost her seat in a primary election to Rep. George Holding (R-N.C).
Powerful conservatives, including the Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity, believe Ellmers betrayed the conservative principles she claimed to represent after getting elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave.
They condemned her for voting with Republican leadership on major spending bills, for wind energy subsidies and for "corporate welfare" such as the Export-Import Bank.
AFP, the group founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, had dozens of field workers descending on the lawmaker’s newly redrawn 2nd Congressional District in North Carolina's Raleigh suburbs.
Supported by a six-figure digital and mail targeting campaign, the AFP ground army did a month-long blitz against Ellmers, knocking on doors and making phone calls to brand the three-time incumbent as a fake conservative who has too often voted for legislation reaffirming Washington’s crony capitalism.
But AFP, which also ran digital ads, wasn't alone in opposing Ellmers.
She also incurred the wrath of the free market purists at the Club for Growth, which says it spent $700,000 on a television and digital ad opposing Ellmers.
“The defeat of Renee Ellmers should be a warning to any Republican who campaigns as an economic conservative, but votes for massive spending bills and for corrupt cronyism like the Export-Import Bank,” said Club for Growth Action President David McIntosh, in a statement Tuesday night.
And the most prominent anti-abortion-rights group, the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, also campaigned against Ellmers.
SBA List urged anti-abortion voters to “Dump Ellmers” after she actively worked in 2015 against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the group’s top legislative priority, the group said in an email Tuesday night.
SBA List’s North Carolina team says it has knocked on more than 12,500 doors across NC-02 in the last few weeks and reached 90,000 voters through digital advertising in its campaign to unseat Ellmers.
“Rep. Renee Ellmers was our ally until she led the charge to derail the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That’s why we had to flex the political muscle of the pro-life movement,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, SBA List president.
“She has her own failed leadership to blame for this loss.”