Amash Faces Primary Challenger

by Betsy Woodruff

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post reported yesterday that Representative Justin Amash, the House’s ur-libertarian, could have a primary situation:

Within Grand Rapids’ powerful business establishment, patience is running low with Amash’s ideological agenda and tactics. Some business leaders are recruiting a Republican primary challenger who they hope will serve the old-fashioned way — by working the inside game and playing nice to gain influence and solve problems for the district. They are tired of tea party governance, as exemplified by the budget fight that led to the shutdown and threatens a first-ever U.S. credit default. 

And at the Detroit News, Nolan Finley gives more detail about Brian Ellis, who looks to be gearing up to challenge Amash:

Out west, rising libertarian star Amash faces a likely challenge from another businessman, Brian Ellis. Like Bentivolio, Amash is short on funds, with just $164,000 in his account.

Ellis, meanwhile, has been promised all the money he’ll need from “a group of people who can give at robust levels,” according to one prominent west Michigan executive. Translation: The leading business and political names in Grand Rapids are backing Ellis’ bid, which he’s expected to announce formally next month.

Jordan Gehrke, a Republican campaign operative with deep ties to Michigan politics, tells National Review that Amash shouldn’t be too worried. “The Tea Party saved the GOP from itself in 2010, and the GOP establishment has never gotten over it,” he says. ”Case in point with Justin Amash – he was never their guy. He’s doing what the grassroots elected him to do, though, and that’s why he’ll win big again. Establishment donors should focus their resources on beating Democrats instead — last I checked, Michigan has a pretty big Senate race in 2014.”

And a Michigan consultant who preferred to remain anonymous says the challenge isn’t just about the ideological make-up of the House; for some Michigan Republicans, beating Amash is personal. “This fight is about 65 percent typical ‘Tea Party vs. Establishment,’ but there’s another component, too: Amash kind of goes out of his way to an a**hole. He doesn’t care if you like him and really wants to make sure that you know that. It’s not helpful.”

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