The Corner

Economy & Business

Another Reason Renee Ellmers Was Defeated Last Night

In response to Moveon.Org

Jim, you give a good overview of what may have been the most important reason Renee Ellmers was defeated last night. I would add one more: She wasn’t free-market. NPR correctly recounts this about her:

First elected in the 2010 GOP wave and seen as a rising Tea Party star, Ellmers rose up the leadership ranks in Washington and became an ally of then-Speaker John Boehner. She voted for budgets that included spending increases, supported raising the debt ceiling and worked to re-authorize the Export-Import Bank that conservative groups believed was akin to corporate welfare…

Those combined conservative forces were eager to make Ellmers an example of what would happen if Republicans moved too far away from party purity.

Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner adds:

In 2015 she signed the the discharge petition to revive the defunct corporate-welfare agency called the Export-Import Bank. While her Chamber of Commerce score was 90 percent, her Club for Growth score was 57 percent.​

While this record earned Ellmers the love of K Street groups, spent more than $750,000 — against her. Americans for Prosperity spent more than $200,000. The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List spent five figures against her and knocked on more than 12,000 doors.

NPR cites the president of the Club for Growth:

‘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,’ Club for Growth Action President David McIntosh added in another statement.

And Brent Gardner, the vice president for government affairs at Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation, told me this morning:

Time and time again, Renee Ellmers came down on the side of politically connected special interests, more spending, and bigger government. We thought Rep. Ellmers’s constituents ought to know about her record, so we went door to door to educate folks about her consistent pattern of voting against North Carolina families and small businesses — and Tuesday night her record caught up with her.

Renee Ellmers was out of touch — and now she’s going to be out of Congress.

To be fair, Ellmers wasn’t alone within the GOP in supporting many of these misguided policies. But what made her particularly irritating was her insistence that she is was right to hold these position because, you see, as much as she would like to be more conservative, she was pragmatic.

‘I would love for [those bills] to be more conservative, but I’m also a common-sense person,’ Ellmers said. ‘I’m a pragmatist. I want to get things done.’

I think she doesn’t understand what the word “pragmatic” means. There is nothing pragmatic about systematically voting for ridiculously large special interests and for every possible expansion of the government after having been elected to reduce spending and to fight against special interests.

But the worst of the worst in my opinion are her many comments about how those of us fighting for free-markets and against cronyism are a “special interest group.” For real:

I’m not going to go to Washington and vote no on everything because some outside special interest group says that’s the way that I should vote.

So fighting against the Ex-Im Bank, which is one of the most outrageous forms of government-granted privileges to massive and wealthy corporations (65 percent of Ex-Im money benefits just ten companies), is special interest politics? Well, I guess if you mean that those of us who fight for all the unseen victims of cronyism — whether they are taxpayers or the customers of unsubsidized companies — are a special-interest group, then I plead guilty. Otherwise, Ellmers may want to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask herself whether it was worth answering the lobbying call of Boeing and GE and systematically voting for more spending and more debt rather than serving the American people.

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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