Republican nominee Donald Trump hasn’t paid much attention to the down-ticket races within his party. In fact, most of the time he completely ignores them and, as Rep. Renee Ellmers found out, that might be for the best. Ellmers is the only congressional candidate to receive Trump’s endorsement. She lost. It begs the question, is Trump’s brand as strong as he wants us, and the GOP, to think it is?
Trump made robocalls for Ellmers and his endorsement was mentioned in her campaign emails, but neither of those were enough to defeat primary challenger, George Holdings.
Ellmers’ challenger was a Tea Party backed Republican who was challenging her, in part, due to her withdrawal of support for a controversial abortion bill. The bill, which President Obama vowed to veto, would have banned abortions after 20 weeks with a very narrow exception for victims of rape. After withdrawing her support, Ellmers was heavy criticized by conservative media outlets and had protesters gathering outside her office.
Cases such as this are fairly common in primary season. Indeed, it could be argued that the whole purpose of primary elections is to weed out those that the party’s base finds disagreeable. The truly interesting part of this is the simple fact that the sole candidate that Trump endorsed lost their bid for reelection.
While Ellmers did lose to a fellow conservative, her defeat casts doubt on the strength of Trump’s brand and his ability to deliver down-ticket victories. It’s causing speculation that the Democrats might retake the Senate. Joe Scarborugh, of Morning Joe, went a step farther and warned that their support of Trump could cost Republicans both houses of Congress if they aren’t careful.
In light of his recent controversies, several Republicans have began to distance themselves from their nominee. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois has denounced Trump saying he cannot for president.
‘While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party’
You can listen to Trump’s endorsement of Ellmers here: