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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Primary challengers to Renee Ellmers offer hope for pro-lifers

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

PINEHURST, North Carolina, October 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – North Carolina Representative Renee Ellmers ran as a pro-life candidate and was elected with significant backing from the pro-life movement. But when a significant pro-life bill came up, Ellmers led a revolt that kept the House of Representatives from voting on it.

Rep. Ellmers fatally withdrew her sponsorship of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in January – on the very day of Washington, D.C.'s March for Life. To add insult to injury, when the bill finally came up for a vote, after she for all intents and purposes killed its chances, Ellmers voted in favor of it, to maintain the façade of her pro-life image.

"Congresswoman Renee Ellmers has betrayed the pro-life community," said the North Carolina Values Coalition. The American Principles Project's founder shared, "I hope that Ellmers will be subjected to a strong primary challenge in the next election by someone who is genuinely pro-life and that our movement to protect the lives of unborn children at all stages and in all conditions will now move forward." National Right to Life said, "If you can't vote for such a humanitarian no-brainer of a law to protect the unborn, you can't be trusted to vote for any pro-life legislation."

"We need to send a message loud and clear to all 'pro-life' representatives who ask for our vote, but who betray the lives of vulnerable unborn babies when they get in office: If you vote or work behind the scenes to allow the slaughter of abortion to continue, you will hear from pro-life voters loudly and clearly at the polls," National Right to Life president Carol Tobias said.

Dr. James Dobson, author and founder of Focus on the Family, commented, "Conservatives will know Rep. Renee Ellmers best for her opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment, her sponsorship of the radical Equal Rights Amendment, and for withdrawing her sponsorship of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act."

Ambassador and former presidential candidate Alan Keyes released a statement about Ellmers, saying that she is "a faithless Representative, favored by political bosses, who must be removed from office if decent politics is to prevail."

Pro-lifers are looking for an alternative for Ellmers. She faces three conservative challengers in March's primary: businessman Jim Duncan, economics professor Frank Roche, and Kay Daly, who calls Ellmers a "RINO:  Republican In Name Only."

Kay Daly and her husband Jack have been personally involved in the conservative movement for many years. "I'm running against Renee because she's been unfaithful to her constituents and to the Republican Party platform," Daly explained.

Daly's husband is a North Carolina attorney, Army veteran, and former congressional chief of staff.  Now 48 years old, Kay Daly began her activism as a volunteer for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign in 1984. She was selected by the American Conservative Union to receive the prestigious "Ronald Reagan Award" at the 30th annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

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Daly was a congressional aide or campaign advisor to three senators (Phil Gramm of Texas, Pete Wilson of California, and Fred Thompson of Tennessee) and two congressmen (Fred Heineman and Robin Hayes of North Carolina). She is the daughter of an OSS agent, sister of a Vietnam vet, wife of a disabled Army veteran, and mother of three children. A University of California alumna, she completed graduate work in legislative affairs at George Washington University.

The committed pro-lifer ran a TV ad during the second Republican presidential debate in which she fired a shotgun and said, "I'm hunting RINOs."

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family endorsed Kay Daly, saying, "Kay Daly's principles are firmly rooted in a Judeo-Christian world view. She has solemnly promised to follow those principles in Congress, rather than the dictates of a failed Republican leadership."

Dr. Dobson added, "Many claim they have such courage; I believe Kay is among the precious few who will actually hold fast to her promise."

Gary Bauer, one of the founders of the Family Research Council, endorsed Kay Daly as well, saying, "In an age where too many Republicans let the media and their own lack of courage determine their votes, Kay Daly has been a rock for free enterprise, traditional marriage, religious liberty, conservative judges and a strong and secure Israel​."

Bauer urged pro-life and pro-family voters to "help elect this fearless conservative to Congress." In an apparent reference to Ellmers's betrayal of her pro-life promises, Bauer added, "She [Kay Daly] won't let you down!"

Daly is also endorsed by the National Rifle Association, Faith2Action, Operation Rescue, Tea Party Nation, the National Organization for Marriage, Robert Bork, and a host of other conservatives.

Frank Roche announced his candidacy soon after Ellmers led the revolt against the pro-life Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. He has significant backing: when he ran against Ellmers in the 2014 primary, he garnered 41 percent of the vote.

"Voters recognize there is a lack of courage to take on ... progressives in both parties, or to fight for conservative principles," Roche wrote on his website. "I am committed to standing up against the Washington establishment."

Roche stated, "When our representatives make commitments on the campaign trail that take a backseat to whatever is politically expedient once they return to Washington, when they lie to us, they should be taken to task for it and replaced."

Roche is the sixth of seven children, whose father was superintendent of schools. He is a conqueror of adversity: at the age of two, he was diagnosed with Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease, a rare disease of the hip, and spent three years of his life unable to walk, two years in leg braces, and one year on crutches. He eventually became a hockey player, a wrestler, a rower, and a golfer.

At 16, after his father suddenly died of a heart attack, Roche helped support his family working while going to school. While he was in college, his mother fought a year-long battle with cancer and died on Christmas Eve.

After college, Roche moved to New York City and began a 23-year career in the international banking industry. In 2007, he came to North Carolina to get involved in public policy. He is founder and chief economist of PolicyMattersUSA.com.

Roche is campaigning as a pro-life, pro-family candidate. "I believe that life begins at conception," Roche writes. "As your congressman, I will always fight to protect the sanctity of life and support legislation meant to stop abortion."

Jim Duncan has the most in his campaign war chest: $206,000 in cash on hand, including $100,000 of his own money. The retired businessman says he's willing to put up more of his own money if necessary.

Duncan is the son of a World War Two veteran turned police officer. Duncan himself served in the National Guard for five years before beginning a career in the high-tech industry. His work with underprivileged inner-city children led him to adopt strong conservative values.

Duncan has been married to his wife Betsy for 44 years. The have one daughter.

The three challengers to Ellmers have a hard row to hoe, since state lawmakers moved the primary up to March 15.

Challengers' talking points against Ellmers include the fact that she voted to cut veterans benefits and cut the U.S. military budget, voted for gay marriage, voted to fund Obamacare, voted to raise the U.S. debt ceiling to fund abortions in Washington, D.C. and Planned Parenthood, and is in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants, according to the Daly website.

Under the state's election procedures, Ellmers must earn more than 40 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff with her top primary challenger.

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