The growing rift between Tea Party conservatives and the moneyed GOP establishment may have just broken out into open hostilities.
According to a letter obtained by The Hill, prominent Republican donors in Michigan are asking for financial help to oust one of the state’s incumbent GOP congressmen, Rep. Justin Amash (MI). Their aid will be going to Amash’s challenger in the upcoming Republican primary, businessman Brian Ellis.
Seven individuals signed the letter, including prominent Michigan businessmen Mark Bissell, J.C. Huizenga and Mike Jandernoa. The move is punishment for Amash’s participation in the infamous “suicide caucus” that insisted on undoing Obamacare as the price for keeping the government opening, scuttled a deal House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) tried to put together, and thus precipitated the recent government shutdown. “[Amash] and a small group of like-minded legislators rejected Speaker Boehner’s plea to pass legislation requiring Congress and the president be subject to ObamaCare, and put on hold the special new tax on medical equipment,” the letter states. “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 is among the hardest of hard-right Tea Party congressmen in the legislature. He played a key role in the January effort to oust Boehner as House speaker, he’s pushing legislation to restrict abortion access in Washington D.C., and he denied the severity of a debt ceiling breach during the default standoff. On the health care front, Amash has dismissed concerns that a repeal of Obamacare would leave those with pre-existing conditions without recourse, and fought against the law’s expansion of Medicaid in Michigan — which would bring coverage to 470,000 people in the state currently going uninsured.
The turn against Amash among Michigan donors is part of a broader anti-Tea-Party revolt by the GOP establishment around the country, largely driven by anger over the shutdown debacle. Discontent with the Tea Party’s radicalism is growing amongst political donors on both sides of the aisle, Republican moderates have vowed to speak out more against the more extreme members of their party, and fundraising for the Tea Party legislators associated with the suicide caucus dropped by two-thirds in the July-to-September quarter.
But Amash is not without supporters. Dean Clancy, the vice president of public policy at the conservative group FreedomWorks, told The Hill, “We have heard that the K-Street establishment wants to knock him off — and we intend to defend him punch-for-punch.”