North Carolina Republican Renee Ellmers’ district has been redrawn as heavily Republican, but she may be facing a challenge from a big name.
It’s American Idol 2003 contestant Clay Aiken, according to The Washington Blade. While that might seem strange at first, Democrat Clay Aiken has long been involved with UNICEF, who sent him to Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, and Afghanistan. The Blade reported this scoop based on two anonymous sources, which wouldn’t mean much if Betsy Conti, a local political strategist who has worked with former North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue and Al Gore, wasn’t also said to be consulting with Aiken.
From the Blade:
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the 35-year-old Raleigh native has taken initial steps for a run, including consulting with political operatives in Washington, D.C., about a bid for the seat.
One Democratic source said Aiken made phone calls to gauge support, talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and has met with figures in Raleigh, N.C., about a potential bid. Although it’s unclear when Aiken might formally announce a decision, the source said Aiken is “actively considering” it and “sounding and acting like a candidate.
Ellmers’ district was heavily redrawn to favor the Republican, but she is also being challenged from the right by Frank Roche, a conservative Internet talk show host. WRAL ran the statement he released with his announcement, condemning her for her “moderate” voting record:
“The key elements motivating my decision to take on this difficult challenge are Representative Ellmer’s [sic] support for the comprehensive immigration reform legislation making its way through Congress, including a “pathway to citizenship;” her moderate go-along-to-get-along voting record in her first three years of office; an already poor record of constituent services; a relentless focus on fundraising since elected in 2010; and a lack of focus on the critically important issues impacting America’s future strength and prosperity.”
This might be a good time to remind everyone that Renee Ellmers was one of the Republicans who refused to give up her pay during the GOP shutdown of government, even though she supported the shutdown. This person is being primaried from the right, and that should inform you of how crazy the Republican Party has become.
Back in 2010, Renee Ellmers was ushered into her seat by the Tea Party, but at least some of the Tea Party are apparently already feeling disillusioned with her. Formerly, the seat had been long held by Democrat Bob Etheridge.
Ellmers might be safe in her redistricted heaven, but she can’t afford a big name like Clay Aiken to run against her while she’s being primaried hard from the right. It seems that no one really likes her, and that could depress turnout for the Republican.
Ellmers disappointed the Tea Party extremists, and she’s certainly not helping the constituents who previously voted for Bob Etheridge. Who will rush to vote for her in an off year? Yes, it’s a long run, but a big name is better than no name when it comes to challenging a heavily protected incumbent in an off year, so if this is indeed true, it could be good news for Democrats.