Poor soon-to-be-ex-congresswoman Renee Ellmers. She seems to be her own worst enemy, and it has finally caught up with her.
In 2013 she voted for a government shutdown, then announced that she would continue to draw her pay because she said she needed her paycheck. Despite that very tone-deaf statement, Ellmers was sent back to Washington in 2014 by voters in her North Carolina district. But now she will need to find another source of income, as she was just badly beaten in the primary for her seat, even though (because?) she was endorsed by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Once a Tea Party darling, Ellmers was thrown into a primary battle for her seat when a federal court ruled that North Carolina’s 13th congressional district, represented by Republican George Holding, had been racially gerrymandered by the state legislature. Holding then jumped into the race for Ellmers’ 2nd district seat. He and Ellmers have gone back and forth for weeks about who is the “true conservative.” Just this past weekend Trump recorded a phone message in support of Ellmers, saying,
I need her help in Washington so we can work together to defeat ISIS, secure our border, and bring back jobs and frankly, so many other things. And Renee knows how to do it. She gets it. And together, we will make America great again.
Looks like The Donald will have to make America great without her. Not only did Ellmers lose, she lost to Holding badly. In fact, she barely finished above the third place candidate in the race, a little-known physician named Greg Bannon. Holding took 53.4 percent of the vote. Ellmers could only muster 23.6 percent, and Bannon finished with 23 percent.
In fairness, Holding was expected to win, and Ellmers had been fighting an uphill battle in the race, the first time two incumbent members of congress have been forced to go head-to-head since 2012. You would think that getting the endorsement of your party’s presidential nominee might pull a little weight with voters. But even with Trump’s backing, Ellmers couldn’t get to 25 percent. That’s almost a textbook description of “pathetic.”
Trump won by a comfortable margin in the North Carolina presidential primary, which was held in March, beating second place Ted Cruz by some 40,000 votes. But the tv star turned politician isn’t overwhelmingly popular in the state. According to Real Clear Politics, polls have shown Clinton and Trump swapping leads in the Tar Heel State since February. Their current average of polls has Trump ahead by a scant one percent.
Ellmers’ loss should also cause a renewal of GOP fears that Trump will drag House and Senate candidates down with him. When the best you can say is that you were no help at all to the candidate you picked, there just might be a problem. President Obama’s 2008 win in the state was the first Democratic victory in a presidential election there since Jimmy Carter in 1976, and currently, Republicans hold all but three of the state’s seats in Congress. Could Donald Trump turn North Carolina blue again, and help Democrats win their Senate and House races to boot? As the “magic 8 ball” might say, “Signs point to yes.”
Featured image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images