Justin Amash

Rep. Justin Amash Facing "Ugliest House Primary"

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W. James Antle III at American Conservative takes a close look at the bruising attempts to bash libertarian-leaning Republican congressman Justin Amash in his ongoing Michigan primary:

Primary challenger Brian Ellis says he has just "been very factual" about Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash's voting record, but National Journal has dubbed the contest "the ugliest House primary of the cycle."

Ellis has plowed at least $400,000 of his own money into a primary challenge against Amash, whom he has called "al Qaeda's best friend in Congress," among other pleasantries. The businessman has made himself the candidate of K Street Republicans, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and the neoconservatives.

So far, the polling doesn't suggest this is enough to make him the candidate of the Republican Party in his district. A Wenzel Strategies poll commissioned by the Amash campaign shows the incumbent trouncing Ellis by 22 points, with Amash taking 56 percent of the vote to Ellis's 34 percent….

Ellis, as Antle notes, faces a challenge that a fellow Republican would have to face against someone as libertarian as Amash:

He simultaneously portrays himself as more moderate and more conservative than Amash. So far, the latter message doesn't seem to be breaking through. In the June poll, Amash led 60 percent to 31 percent among Tea Party supporters while Ellis led 53 percent to 35 percent among self-described Tea Party opponents.

Ellis uses Amash's generally strong defense of his constituents' civil liberties as a hook to seem "tougher on national security" including using a Marine vet's voice in an attack ad. 

"We were out there fighting for the country, and he's voting against anything that would help us," the veteran says in the voice-over.

Perhaps what would most help American troops is bringing them back from pointless and useless foreign entanglements, an idea that is making more and more sense to more and more Republicans.

I interviewed Amash after his last successful election as part of a package of liberty-minded Republicans in Congress.

Justin Amash Campaigns/Elections Congress