Michigan businessman Brian Ellis on Tuesday is launching a Republican primary campaign against Rep. Justin Amash, an outspoken leader of the House tea party faction and heir to former congressman Ron Paul's libertarian mantle.
Amash, 33, has alienated some business leaders in his Grand Rapids district since first winning election in 2010 amid a tea party wave. Some business leaders say they would prefer a more mainstream conservative congressman who would get along with House leadership.
Yet Ellis is casting himself not as a moderate but as a conservative, attacking Amash from the right. In a statement announcing his 2014 campaign, Ellis highlighted Amash's votes against Rep. Paul Ryan's budget and a tax cut for small businesses. He also raised Amash's "present" votes on a Keystone Pipeline bill and on a measure to prevent tax dollars from funding Planned Parenthood, a group that provides abortions.
"Congressman Justin Amash has turned his back on our conservative principles," Ellis said in the statement. He added, "I will advance conservative solutions by voting to balance the budget, reduce the tax burden, expand American energy sources, and defend the right to life and our Constitution."
Ellis, an investment manager who also sits on a local school board, plans to officially launch his campaign by addressing supporters at 10 a.m. at a Grand Rapids hotel.
Several Republican operatives told The Washington Post in a story published Monday that some well-known business executives in the Grand Rapids area have promised their support to Ellis. Although one of the city's biggest names, Douglas L. DeVos, president of Amway, is actively supporting Amash and raising money for him. DeVos told The Post that the young congressman was "developing very strongly."
Taking on Amash will be difficult in Michigan's 3rd congressional district, where grass-roots conservatives hold considerable sway. In 2012, Amash faced no primary opponent and won the general election 53 percent to 44 percent.
Asked about a possible primary challenge next year, Amash's spokesman, Will Adams, said, "We're not worried."