Justin Amash is my representative in Congress. In some ways, he’s a Tea Party type, but he’s also a consistent civil libertarian. My friend Bob Goodrich is running against him as a Democrat but the really interesting race is the Republican primary challenge to him, which Politico reports on.
The establishment scored huge victories in primary races Tuesday. Their next potential target: Rep. Justin Amash.
Business groups, executives in Michigan and even some of his fellow home state Republicans are abandoning the hard-line tea party conservative, famous in Washington for voting “no” on bills as wide ranging as the debt ceiling to defense funding.
Members of the Meijers family, owners of the massive Midwest supermarket chain, are all in behind Brian Ellis, Amash’s Republican primary challenger. As are the political arms of Home Depot, Dow Chemical and the International Franchise Association.
The primary race is in the beginning stages of what could be an epic throwdown in August between the business community, usually reluctant to play in a Republican primary, and big conservative outsiders, including the Koch brothers and the Club for Growth, who are dumping money into Amash’s campaign.
Eh, that’s just business interests against business interests. But what Ellis and his supporters are really mad about is Amash’s civil libertarian positions on issues like illegal surveillance. And they’re pulling out the rhetorical big guns:
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Amash isn’t a “serious member of Congress,” and added “this is someone here playing games, and trying to be on the opposite side of Republicans.” Nunes gave his opponent $5,000.
Nunes said his dealings with Amash on a water bill critical to California turned him off.
“He’s been leading the charge and not telling the truth about [NSA surveillance policies],” Nunes said in an interview. “He’s been fanning the flames, and it gets to the point where my assessment is this is a guy willing to work with San Francisco Democrats to protect bait fish, and at the same time he’s Al Qaeda’s best friend in the Congress.”
Amash has been critical of the National Security Agency and caused a floor fight last year over a controversial amendment to curb the agency’s ability to collect phone data from Americans.
Al Qaeda’s best friend in Congress! That’s the kind of moronic rhetoric usually reserved for Democrats. I think this is going to play out in several races around the country, most obviously in the presidential race if Rand Paul makes a serious run. And it’s going to be fun to watch.