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Rep. Renee Ellmers

June 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Rep. Renee Ellmers, the North Carolina Republican who delayed – and nearly stopped – the passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, lost her primary last night to her more consistently pro-life challenger.

“She betrayed the pro-life movement,” Barbara Holt of North Carolina Right to Life told LifeSiteNews just before the election.

After redistricting, Ellmers faced fellow incumbent Congressman George Holding, who has a 100 percent score on “key votes” from National Right to Life since taking office in 2013.

Ellmers, who campaigned as a pro-life nurse aligned with the Tea Party when she first sought office in 2010, led a House revolt against the bill designed to end abortions after 20 weeks. In 2015, she and a handful of Republicans including Jackie Walorski of Indiana objected that the bill – which they had previously voted for – required rape victims to report a crime to police before legally having a late-term abortion.

“This important legislation would prevent abortion after 20 weeks — a point at which science has proven unborn babies can feel excruciating pain,” said Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council. “Abortionists kill about 13,000 babies every year through late-term abortions.”

The backlash embarrassed House Republican leadership, which had publicly announced it would vote on the measure the morning of the annual March for Life, and caused leaders to postpone the vote for months.

Ellmers responded to objections from the pro-life community by saying, “I am appalled by the abhorrent and childish behaviors from some of the leaders of” the right to life movement.

After the final district lines were set, national pro-life groups poured resources into opposing a sitting Republican congresswoman. The national and state right to life chapter supported Rep. Holding, and the Susan B. Anthony List says it contacted more than 215,000 people in North Carolina's second congressional district.

“Susan B. Anthony List exists to support and amplify pro-life women’s voices. Rep. Renee Ellmers was our ally until she led the charge to derail the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That’s why we had to flex the political muscle of the pro-life movement,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who hails from North Carolina. “She has her own failed leadership to blame for this loss.”

SBA canvassers found that 67 percent of undecided pro-life Republicans, and 38 percent of Ellmers' supporters, were less likely to vote for her after learning of her role in sidelining the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act.

Ultimately, Holding won 52 percent of the vote to 24 percent for both Ellmers and another conservative, pro-life hopeful Greg Brannon.

“Voters sent a message tonight that they will do more than take notice when Members of Congress betray the pro-life principles that they were elected to champion,” Perkins said.

Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America told LifeSiteNews, “It matters immensely when our elected officials claim to be pro-life but fail to act on those precious values.”

Other conservative organizations fought against Ellmers over her record on economic issues, including Americans for Prosperity, which targeted her support for the Export-Import Bank. “Tonight sends a clear message to lawmakers that we're going to hold them accountable for overspending and corporate welfare,” AFP president Tim Phillips told Politico last night.

The Club for Growth announced that it had spend $700,000 in the district to defeat Ellmers over her position on economic issues.

Ellmers' crushing, two-to-one defeat came despite a late-breaking endorsement from presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“Boy, is she a fighter,” he said in a robocall that hit the district over the weekend. It was his first endorsement since clearing the GOP presidential field.

Ellmers suffered some additional bad publicity on election day, as cameras caught her insulting a woman she described as a “friend” and former supporter.

As she arrived at her polling place in the city of Dunn, Ellmers saw former Harnett County Republican Party Chair Maggie Sandrock – who previously backed Ellmers but supports Rep. Holding this year. Ellmers called out that Sandrock had gained some weight.

“You’re eating a little bit too much pork barbecue. Whoo!” Ellmers said, looking away after the remark.

When asked for her reaction, Sandrock described the remarks as “typical Renee.”

“She has become a mean girl on steroids in my view,” Sandrock told WNCN-TV.

In other primaries last night, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey beat primary challenger Bruce MacDonald.

Rep. Smith, who has served in Congress since 1981, is co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-life Caucus and the sponsor of numerous pro-life bills over the years.

MacDonald, a self-described “Trumpster,” runs a jewelry store in the district. He said, though he is personally opposed to abortion, he believes it should be legally available – but hopes women will use contraception instead.

“That's why it's called Planned Parenthood,” he told local media.

Congressman Smith crushed MacDonald, piling up 92 percent of the vote to MacDonald's eight percent.

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