The Third Congressional district stretches from north of Grand Rapids to south of Battle Creek. The incumbent is Justin Amash, a libertarian and Tea Party favorite. He’s being challenged in the Republican Primary by Brian Ellis, who has backing from many business leaders and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
It’s been a pretty nasty contest between the candidates.
One of the ads the Truth Squad reviewed was paid for by the Ellis campaign. It’s a 30 second ad featuring a Marine veteran, Ben Thomas, who says he’s outraged by Justin Amash.
“He supports closing Guantanamo Bay and bringing Al Qaeda terrorists to American soil. Amash even voted to shut down American intelligence for monitoring terrorists. One veteran group rated Amash the worst in Congress. It makes no sense. You know, we were out there fighting for the country and he’s voting against anything that would help us. Mr. Amash, you were called Al Qaeda’s best friend in Congress and for good reason. Your votes put America at risk and that’s a disgrace.”
“Those are pretty strong fighting words right there,” said Ron French with the Truth Squad.
“It’s true that Amash voted for a framework that would have closed Guantanamo Bay in 2016, but it’s far from certain that that demonstrates that that put America at risk,” French explained.
The Truth Squad notes there’s legitimate debate over whether the indefinite imprisonment of suspected terrorists without charge or trial is in the long-term interest of U.S. security.
The intelligence gathering mentioned in the ad is the NSA program that collects telephone records of people in the United States. Amash called the NSA spying on ordinary Americans unconstitutional.
The Truth Squad says the ad by the Ellis campaign is over the top and ruled it a “flagrant foul.”
Meanwhile, an ad Amash is running stretches things a bit too far.
“Justin Amash is rated Michigan’s number one conservative. So, why is Brian Ellis lying about Amash? Because Ellis is scared to talk about his own record.”
The Truth Squad’s Ron French says the 30-second TV ad can’t really justify the “number one conservative” claim.
“Which is a strange position for Amash to take because he may be Michigan’s number one libertarian, but he’s far from being number one conservative in the state,” French said.
Amash is ranked highly by two groups, Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, but certainly there are other Michigan politicians who could claim that title. But French says Amash’s conservative record is blemished by his voting record on abortion.
“So, we find that he overstates his conservative cred,” French said.
Amash is pro-life in all cases except to protect the life of the mother, but National Right to Life is backing Ellis. That’s in part because Amash voted "present" twice on amendments to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Instead, he offered amendments that would to de-fund all abortion providers, not just Planned Parenthood.
The call from the Truth Squad on the Amash ad: a “warning.”
Polling shows Justin Amash has a strong lead in the primary race.
Whoever wins the Republican primary will face Democratic candidate Bob Goodrich. But the 3rd Congressional District leans Republican, and the winner of the primary is expected to win the general election.