Tea Party warrior Justin Amash becomes high-profile target in GOP civil war
on November 15, 2013 at 7:40 AM, updated November 15, 2013 at 7:44 AM
Memo to establishment Republicans: Good luck getting Justin Amash.
Seven big Michigan donors have said they're dedicated to ousting the two-term Western Michigan congressman, who's facing a 2014 GOP primary from businessman Brian Ellis. J.C. Huizenga and Mike Jandernoa are among those raising money for the cause.The Republican heavy-hitters signed a letter obtained by The Hill claiming that Amash "and others have effectively nullified the Republican majority in the U.S. House."
The libertarian-leaning Amash has inflamed the GOP leadership and some business leaders because he can't be controlled.
He's refused to toe the party line on civil liberties issues. He's not afraid to blast warrantless wiretapping (something many Democrats won't do) or vote present on Planned Parenthood funding, despite being pro-life.U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) even derided Amash as a "wacko bird" for backing a filibuster over using drones in the war on terror.
The biggest problem is Amash twice voted against slash-and-burn budgets dreamt up by former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, declaring that they didn't cut enough.
That helped cost Amash his slot on the powerful House Budget Committee, with one ally of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) snarking that the defiant congressman suffered from "the bleep factor."
And Amash voted against opening the government up after the GOP shutdown debacle, which the establishment Republicans claim was irresponsible.
But Amash has the edge in this fight. He's made himself the heir to the Ron Paul sect, is a Tea Party favorite and sports some wealthy and powerful friends, many of whom have the surname of DeVos.
The anti-tax group Club for Growth quickly endorsed Amash again. And Tea Party powerhouse FreedomWorks signaled it will go to the wall for him.
"We have heard that the K Street establishment wants to knock him off — and we intend to defend him punch-for-punch," Dean Clancy of FreedomWorks declared.
This is the latest salvo in the GOP civil war that's gone public -- which is quite remarkable for a party with a history of keeping family squabbles behind closed doors.
Not everyone see this as a fight worth having, like Republican consultant Mike Murray, who posted on Facebook: "I'd much rather all this time, money and effort be redirected to defeating Democrats -- specifically, Rep. Gary Peters."
But it's on.
Let's face it. Amash has been a thorn in the establishment's side ever since the then-29-year-old brashly announced he was running for Congress in 2010, whether incumbent U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Grand Rapids) did or not.
Ehlers, a physicist known for being one of the more thoughtful members of Congress, was 76 at the time. Amash's move looked to many Republicans like the young whippersnapper was shoving a dedicated old man out the door.
It worked, though. Ehlers retired. Amash won the GOP primary. And he coasted to victory in a big Republican year, even though Ehlers' daughters endorsed his Democratic opponent.
But the time for Republicans to go after Amash was in 2012, while he was still a freshman. There was a lot of talk of doing so, but it never materialized.
Amash has since solidified his status as a national figure in the Tea Party cause. He has his own serious financial resources. And perhaps most importantly, he has passion -- something that appears in short supply with Ellis, the establishment's pick.
That all points to the likelihood that Justin Amash won't be leaving Congress anytime soon.