U.S. Congress, Second District (Republican)
U.S. Representative Renee Ellmers is, by no stretch of the imagination, good at her job. Elected in 2010 as part of the tea party wave, she's your typical "rail against government spending" conservative who voted to keep defending the Defense of Marriage Act and, most recently, endorsed Donald Trump.
And yet, possibly as a testament to just how bad the modern GOP is, Ellmers is a much better choice than either of her opponents, fellow U.S. Representative George Holding and failed U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon, a Cary ob-gyn.
Ellmers broke with her fellow Republicans on a 2015 vote to roll back President Obama's executive order on immigration. While handwringing over her opposition to "amnesty," she rightly said the bill would negatively affect businesses in her district. Ellmers also did her part to derail a bill that would have banned abortions after twenty weeks.
For these transgressions, Ellmers has been branded a RINO with a fury usually reserved for people like John Boehner. Before the districts were redrawn, she faced several primary opponents, including the National Review-endorsed Jim Duncan. Once the General Assembly redrew her district, it became clear that the state's Republicans had little affection for her: they shoved her into the same district as Holding, who is well known for his conservative leanings.
Whereas Ellmers attached herself to the "establishment" wing of the Republican House caucus, Holding, a former Jesse Helms staffer who was elected in 2012 to represent the Thirteenth District, has been a reliable conservative backbencher.
Ellmers has recently been attacked by Holding for being the only Republican to vote against an amendment that would have prioritized deportations of undocumented immigrants who committed sex crimes. In reality, Ellmers, along with the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, opposed the amendment because it would have reduced reporting of domestic violence. She’s also been opposed by the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity—which had never before spent money against a Republican incumbent—for voting against spending limits and “for special-interest deals,” as a May ad put it.*
The third candidate, Brannon, has previously advocated a rollback of child labor laws and said that the Second Amendment includes the right to have a nuclear weapon. After the Sandy Hook shooting, Brannon said, "Senator [Kay] Hagan says we got to have a nice debate and discussion about what to do. See, that's called a democracy, which is actually socialism, which is called 'majority rules.'"
All of that is wrong.
Ellmers, at least, has produced an inkling of courage twice in her life—and has never proposed giving everyone access to nukes. It's a ridiculously low bar to clear, but since we can't say the same for Holding or Brannon, we endorse Renee Ellmers. Besides, if the Kochs hate her, she must be doing something right.
*This endorsement originally reported that Americans for Prosperity opposed Ellmers on the basis of her immigration stance. This is not correct. AFP says it opposes Ellmers over fiscal issues. The INDY regrets the error.