After longtime Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s reelection bid collapsed in 2012, Bentivolio was the only Republican on the ballot — and, in the GOP-leaning 11th District, he won.
Although Bentivolio aligns with tea party conservatives, he has not been as much of a thorn in the side of House leadership as Amash has; Boehner hosted a fundraiser for Bentivolio in the summer. But Bentivolio is struggling to prepare for reelection and has just $42,000 in cash on hand, according to campaign finance records. His spokesman did not respond to several requests for comment.
Trott, a longtime party donor and fixture, announced last week that he had raised $425,000 in the 26 days since launching his campaign. But Trott’s campaign is sensitive to any suggestion that he represents the establishment taking on the tea party. “This is not some establishment creation,” said Stu Sandler, Trott’s general consultant.
In Tennessee, tea-party-aligned Rep. Scott DesJarlais faces a GOP primary challenge from state Sen. Jim Tracy, who has won over donors and other supporters who abandoned DesJarlais after a series of personal scandals. In DesJarlais’s divorce records, released too late in the 2012 campaign to impact the result, the congressman revealed that he had multiple affairs with co-workers and patients while he was chief of staff at a hospital and that he counseled a mistress and his wife to get abortions.
In coastal North Carolina, Taylor Griffin, a former aide to George W. Bush who has backing from the Washington establishment, launched a primary challenge last week against Rep. Walter B. Jones, an outspoken iconoclast who has repeatedly antagonized Boehner.
Former Ohio congressman Steven C. LaTourette, who runs the Main Street Partnership, a group that helps promote moderate Republicans, said there is no coordinated effort to mount primary challenges to tea party allies.
“It’s people popping up organically in these districts,” LaTourette said. “The traditional governing wing of the Republican Party is fed up with this dysfunction, this ‘no’ to everything, this refusal to engage the other side to find solutions.”
Here in Amash’s Grand Rapids district, several well-known executives who are said to have promised their support to Ellis did not respond to requests for interviews. But Katie Packer Gage, a former senior aide to Romney and a Michigan GOP operative, said, “The business community in Grand Rapids has been completely disenchanted with Amash.”