GOP establishment donors target Tea Party congressman

Seven big-time GOP donors send letter urging others to support a Tea Party congressman's more moderate challenger

Topics: Tea Party, GOP Civil War, Breitbart, Justin Amash, Brian Ellis, Michigan, Mark Bissel, Mike Jandernoa, Mark Murray, John Canepa, Marge Potter, David Frey, J.C. Huizenga,

Justin Amash is about as conservative as they come. In fact, Amash, who surfed into Congress on the Tea Party wave of 2010, is so conservative that some influential GOP donors have decided they’ve had enough and are supporting his more moderate challenger, Brian Ellis.

According to the right-wing Breitbart, seven big GOP donors — J.C. Huizenga, Mark Bissel, Mike Jandernoa, Mark Murray, John Canepa, Marge Potter, and David Frey — have signed a letter a public letter urging others to join them in their support for Ellis and opposition to Amash. Among Amash’s transgressions, his support for Ted Cruz’s quixotic campaign to shut down the government in order to defund Obamacare ranks highest. But as this segment of the letter makes clear, that’s hardly these donors’ only problem with Amash’s hyper-conservative record (emphasis theirs):

Our current Congressman voted against the final version of the Paul Ryan Budget that would cut $5 trillion in spending – and he was the only Republican from Michigan to do so. He refused to vote in favor of the Keystone Pipeline. He voted against a 20% tax cut that would allow small businesses to create and retain jobs here in Michigan. Just this month, he and a small group of like-minded legislators rejected Speaker Boehner’s plea to pass legislation requiring Congress and the President to be subject to Obamacare, and put on hold the special new tax on medical equipment. This irresponsible action hurt over 50 great West Michigan businesses and was part of the chaos that led the nation to the edge of default.

Amash’s opponent, meanwhile, has taken to sounding more like a moderate — at least on the issue of the government shutdown. “[Y]ou do not threaten to default on our debt,” Ellis said. “You do not threaten the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.”

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Amash is not without his defenders among the local business community. As MLivereported, “The wealthy DeVos family [founders of Amway], perhaps some of the most well-known faces of West Michigan business, gave $39,000 in combined donations to Amash during this current election cycle.”

Last week, Rush Limbaugh had few kind words for Amash’s critics. On his nationally syndicated radio program, Limbaugh took on the Republican donor class, which, he argues, “doesn’t understand what we’re up against.”

“Now, the Republican establishment… is targeting Tea Party officeholders, and they’re going to primary them. And you know who’s doing this is donors, Republican Party donors… [A] set of GOP donors set its sight on someone they perceive as having caused the government shutdown, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash,” Limbaugh noted.

“The donors are upset at the shutdown,” Limbaugh said. “They don’t like it. The Republican establishment did not like the government shutdown, so that the donors say that they’re going after Amash in Michigan because he supported the shutdown, and why did he support the shutdown? To try to repeal Obamacare. So the donors are saying that they don’t think the Republicans should have to defund Obamacare even now.”

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith.

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