Ellmers draws primary challenger

Posted December 9, 2013
Updated December 10, 2013

— It's official: Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers will face a challenge from the right for her 2nd Congressional District seat next May.

Frank Roche, a conservative Internet talk show host from Cary, has been weighing a bid against Ellmers since October. He announced Monday that he will challenge her for the seat. 

"The key elements motivating my decision to take on this difficult challenge are Representative Ellmer's [sic] support for the comprehensive immigration reform legislation making its way through Congress, including a "pathway to citizenship;" her moderate go-along-to-get-along voting record in her first three years of office; an already poor record of constituent services; a relentless focus on fundraising since elected in 2010; and a lack of focus on the critically important issues impacting America's future strength and prosperity," Roche said in a news release. 

Ellmers, a second-term congresswoman from Dunn, won the seat in 2010 from long-time Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge with strong support  from tea party groups. But since her move to Washington, D.C., some of those supporters have been critical of Ellmers' voting record, saying she is not sufficiently conservative.

Her profile has risen quickly within the House GOP caucus. She's seen as a protege of Speaker John Boehner, who has given her plenty of time in the media spotlight representing the caucus on issues like the Affordable Care Act. She was tapped to deliver the GOP's weekly address Dec. 7.

However, the media spotlight hasn't always been kind. During the October shutdown, Ellmers made national headlines for saying she would not turn down her congressional paycheck because she needed the money. 

"We have no more time to waste, no more time to hope Rep. Ellmers will govern as the Conservative presented on the campaign trail," Roche said in his release. "My professional background makes me uniquely qualified to identify and correct the policy mistakes made by both Republicans and Democrats over the past three years; and the 40 years before that."

Roche is no stranger to North Carolina politics but has not yet run successfully for office. In 2010, he narrowly lost to B.J. Lawson in the GOP primary for the 4th Congressional District race.  In 2012, he ran for his party's nomination for state treasurer, but lost that bid to Steve Royal. 

According to his website, Roche moved to North Carolina in late 2007. He has been a foreign exchange trader, an adjunct economics instructor at Elon University and hosted a talk show on WRDU-FM during that station's conservative talk format period. 

Ellmers' campaign spokeswoman Jessica Wood sent the following response via email:

"Renee's focus has been and will continue to be on fulfilling the promise she made to Second District voters to fight for North Carolina's families and hard working taxpayers. She is hopeful that Second District voters will elect to send her back to Washington to continue the fight.

"Frank Roche isn't exactly an unknown entity – he's already been rejected by Republican primary voters twice before," Wood added.


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  • iknowjack Dec 12, 2013

    Who is it, Bugs Bunny? I know which zany Warner Bros. character I'll be voting for!

  • teleman60 Dec 11, 2013

    The whole gop ticket in NC are looney tunes - Elmers, and especially Fox!

    Our Sharia Law GA and Pope Art the 1st just make NC a 'stupid is as stupid does' poster child!

    Patron saint Jesse Helms is looking down on the gop and bringing more racist and moronic thoughts to the NC republicans...

  • Inside The Beltline Dec 10, 2013

    Renee Ellmers has about as effective as using molasses for a lubricant on sub-zero day.

  • surfermom Dec 10, 2013

    Renee really let us down. She's very weak and only won because of the Etheridge gaffe. I believe Frank can beat her. He has at least a fundamental knowledge of the currency markets, and those will become increasing important as Obama leads us down the road to " global equality".

  • seaweaver1 Dec 10, 2013

    Elmers went to congress, put on a collar and handed the leash to Boehner. She has Boehner on her nose and does only what she he allows here to do. She only started piping off about OBAMACARE after Boehner was drug into the fight.

    Frank understands math and will be no ones dog.

  • dckelder Dec 10, 2013

    I am sticking with Renee Ellmers. She has proven to be an effective representative of the second district. Her moderate position is a hope for the future. The LAST thing we need in congress is more polarized politicians from the right or the left. We need pragmatic representatives who pick the battles they should be fighting. The fact that she is not independently wealthy and needs her paycheck, is a plus as far as I am concerned.

  • AliceBToklas Dec 9, 2013

    Just what this state needs - another representative even further to the right than Ellmers.

  • Rebelyell55 Dec 9, 2013

    She lost me when I started getting those mailing, (that appear to be boarderline illegal) certainly worth investigating, that was paid for by the tax payers. Certainly a waste of money and contained useless information. I don't think the independent voters will vote for her again, unless the option is just very bad.

  • WRAL reader Dec 9, 2013

    Frank get my vote.

  • sandim50 Dec 9, 2013

    both losers. Is this the best that the GOP can put out? It is no wonder that the Dems are beating the heck out of us.