A showdown is brewing in Michigan's Third Congressional Distirct which could have outsized impact on national politics for the foreseeable future. What is happening there is a showdown between populist sentiment and cash. For the time being it looks like cash isn't king.
The US Chamber of Commerce has targeted Representative Justin Amash for defeat. I'm not a huge fan of Amash, who strikes me as a Ron Paul without the charisma or searing intellect. In fact, if there was an actual conservative running against him I wouldn't be writing this. As little love as I have for libertarians I'm deadset against adding yet another Vichy Republican and Chamber of Commerce crony capitalist to the GOP Caucus... that would be the Chamber's gundog, a guy named Brian Ellis.
Ellis claims that the populist Amash does not represent the residents of Michigan-03.
The challenger's first day of campaigning varied little from today's style — Ellis contends Amash's, R-Cascade Township, representation does not reflect the views and values of its citizens. The votes the congressman cast during his two terms, which Ellis has dubbed as "bizarre," are not an accurate reflection of those living within the district's boundaries, he contends.
The campaign criticizes at least 20 votes, including one against the continuation of the U.S. Postal Service's breast cancer stamp meant to raise millions of dollars for research. Amash was the only legislator in all of the House to vote no, and Ellis doesn't understand why despite one Facebook explanation.
A quick look at FEC reports gives an indication of whom is actually supported by people in the district:
It looks like that other than Brian Ellis and a handful of deep pocket supporters there is no one who really wants Ellis to represent them. Which is just as well because Ellis trails Amash by 23 points:
With three weeks to go before the August primary, challenger Brian Ellis faces an upward battle against U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, should new poll numbers verify.
The poll, conducted by Grand Rapids-based Strategic National, shows 47 percent of likely primary voters would choose Amash, while about 24 percent would back Ellis — a 23 point lead. The results are beyond the poll's 4.4 percent margin of error.
"Ellis has failed to move any numbers despite all the money that has been spent and doesn't seem to have any viable path to victory," pollster John Yob said in a statement.
Amash's lead has been getting bigger as election day looms.
Like every other primary the Chamber has engaged in this election cycle the focus has been on tearing down the opposition. There is no lie to scurrilous and no allegation too bizarre for the Chamber to make in its desperate fight to keep its place at the trough.
A few blocks away, at the back of the parade route, the local congressman who has been called “al-Qaida’s best friend” is getting plenty of respect. Rep. Justin Amash, whose libertarian voting record supposedly made him a soft target for more hawkish Republicans, is finding no one who agrees with his opponents’ attacks.
“I don’t know why they just don’t deal with honest facts,” says one elderly voter.
“It’s backfiring on ’em,” says Amash.
A propane salesman named Don Rittersdorf asks why Amash’s opponent, a businessman named Brian Ellis, is being so vicious. “Right out of the gate, he was attackin’!” he says. “I was like, holy cow!”
“It’s just that time of year,” says Amash.
Josh Reisbig, who works for a trucking company, tells Amash that he did not fall for an ad accusing him of backing gender-selective abortion.
He is "al Qaeda's best friend" because he joined John Conyers in an effort to limit the NSA's spying on American citizens in America. Strategically, I don't agree with his vote on gender-selective abortion -- I am all for nibbling away at abortion and building a narrative that clearly defines babies in utero as human beings -- but to call him a pro-abort is sheer asshattery. But that is the Chamber's modus operandi this election cycle.
So as the Chamber goes about carrying out a scorched earth campaign against conservative, and in this case libertarian, candidates hubris is coming home to roost. Their name is becoming anathema to conservative voters and they will find that the anti-business climate they have feared could very well be created by their own actions.