Renee Ellmers

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Renee Ellmers
Rep. Renee Ellmers.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Bob Etheridge
Personal details
Born Renee Jacisin
(1964-02-09) February 9, 1964 (age 50)
Ironwood, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Brent Ellmers
Children Ben
Alma mater Oakland University
Religion Roman Catholicism[citation needed]
Website House website

Renee Jacisin Ellmers (born February 9, 1964)[1] is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 2nd congressional district since 2011. She is a member of the Republican Party. Ellmers defeated seven-term Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge in 2010 by 1,489 votes, confirmed after a recount.

Early life, education, and nursing career[edit]

Ellmers was born Renee Jacisin in Ironwood, Michigan, the daughter of Caroline Pauline (née Marshalek) and LeRoy Francis Jacisin. Her father was of Czech and French-Canadian descent and her mother was of Croatian and Polish ancestry.[2] She moved to Madison Heights as a child, when her father got a job in the automobile industry. She graduated from Madison High School.[3] Ellmers paid her way through Oakland University by working various jobs, training as a medical assistant.[4] In 1990, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.[5][6] Ellmers worked as a nurse in Beaumont Hospital's surgical intensive care unit. In North Carolina, she was clinical director of the Trinity Wound Care Center in Dunn.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Ellmers became involved in politics after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which she opposed. She became involved in local Republican politics and joined Americans for Prosperity, a free-market political advocacy group.[5] She sought the Republican Party nomination for Congress in North Carolina's 2nd congressional district, which was then held by seven-term incumbent Bob Etheridge. She faced car dealer Todd Gailas and retired businessman Frank Deatrich in the May 4, 2010 Republican primary. She raised and spent more money than her opponents. She won the Republican primary with 55% of the vote, winning every county in the district except Franklin.[5][7][8]

In June, a physical altercation between U.S. Congressman Bob Etheridge and two young men claiming to be students working on a project [9] was posted to the internet.[10] The previously obscure Ellmers was highlighted by conservative blogs such as RedState and the National Review's The Corner.[11] Donations increased markedly,[12] and a SurveyUSA poll showed Ellmers ahead by one percent[13] Ultimately, the Ellmers campaign would highlight the incident in a number of televised negative attack ads against Etheridge.[5] Ellmers received an endorsement from former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin on August 18 through Facebook, citing Ellmers' experience in the health care industry.[14] Palin endorsed Ellmers along with three other women, on the 90th anniversary of women's suffrage in the United States.[15]

Ellmers received national media attention in September when she released a television ad condemning the Park51 community center in Manhattan, and Congressman Etheridge for not voicing an opinion on the subject. The ad was criticized as "the most baldly anti-Muslim ad of the year" by Salon and "bigotry" by a writer for the Washington Post.[16][17] Nevertheless, Ellmers led in polling[18] and fundraising[19] prior to the election.

On election day, November 2, 2010, Ellmers was declared the winner by the media and a recount conducted on November 17 and 18 confirmed that she defeated Bob Etheridge during the general election by a margin of 0.8% or 1,483 votes.[20][21]


The Republicans won control of the General Assembly in the 2010 election as well, and used the redistricting process to shore up the 2nd for Ellmers. While Barack Obama won the old 2nd with 52 percent of the vote--one of the few majority-white districts in the South that went for Obama--John McCain would have carried the new 2nd with 57 percent of the vote.

Three Republicans decided to challenge her in the primary, but all of them were first-time candidates. She won the May 8 primary with 56% of the vote.[22] In the November general election, Ellmers defeated Democratic nominee Steve Wilkins, a retired US Army officer and Moore County businessman, 56%-41%.[23]


Ellmers will face a May 2014 primary challenge from conservative Internet talk show host Frank Roche.[24] Possible Democratic opponents include attorney Houston Barnes, former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco[25] and “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken.[26]


In September 2011, Ellmers told students at Campbell University that she opposed a state constitutional amendent banning same-sex marriage and civil unions because it was too broad. A spokesman said "Congresswoman Ellmers has always believed that marriage is a sacred institution and is defined as the union between one man and one woman...As a voter, she would vote against a piece of legislation that would add a ban on civil unions to the protection of marriage since they are two different issues and should be dealt with separately."[27]

She supported the Budget Control Act of 2011 saying "It's not 100 percent of what many of our very conservative colleagues want, but it is about 70-75 percent. This is not about who's the most conservative. This is about common sense."[28]

Ellmer serves as the current chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee.[29]

Committee assignments[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Ellmers met her husband Brent Ellmers, a surgeon, while working at Beaumont Hospital. After the birth of their son Ben, the family moved to Dunn, North Carolina, where Ellmers and her husband ran a practice.[5]

On October 3, 2013, Ellmers admitted that she would not refuse her Congressional paycheck during the federal government shutdown because, "I need my paycheck. That's the bottom line."[30] On October 4, 2013, Ellmers reversed course after negative publicity, but also admitted she has already received her October pay and isn't scheduled to get another paycheck until the first of November.[31]

On October 22, 2013 it became known that a semi-automatic AR-15 was stolen from the congresswoman's home. According to the police report, Ellmers' husband and son had left the rifle unsecured in their unlocked garage after going target shooting.[32] The home was burglarized and the rifle was stolen. Renee Ellmers was out of town when the house was burglarized.


  1. ^ Jennifer Scholtes (November 3, 2010). "112th Congress: Renee Ellmers, R-N.C. (2nd District)". Congressional Quarterly. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  2. ^ "Renee Ellmers ancestry". Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  3. ^ a b "Meet Renee". Renee Ellmers for Congress. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Guide to the New Congress". CQ Roll Call. 2010-11-04. Retrieved 2010-11-24. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Renee Ellmers (R)". National Journal. November 2, 2010. 
  6. ^ Renee Ellmers at Project Vote Smart
  7. ^ "NC District 2 - R Primary Race - May 04, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  8. ^ Phillips, Gregory (April 21, 2010). "GOP 2nd Congressional District candidates cite unique perspectives". The Fayetteville Observer. 
  9. ^ "They also tried to push Democrats into retirement, using what was described in the presentation as “guerrilla tactics” like chasing Democratic members down with video cameras and pressing them to explain votes or positions. (One target, Representative Bob Etheridge of North Carolina, had to apologize for manhandling one of his inquisitors in a clip memorialized on YouTube. Only this week did Republican strategists acknowledge they were behind the episode.)" From Democrats Outrun by a 2-Year G.O.P. Comeback Plan, New York Times November 3, 2010
  10. ^ Grier, Peter (June 14, 2010). "Bob Etheridge incident: What does he have to apologize for?". The Christian Science Monitor. 
  11. ^ Cillizza, Chris (June 15, 2010). "Bob Etheridge and the political power (or lack thereof) of a gaffe". The Washington Post. 
  12. ^ Christensen, Rob. "Etheridge slip puts foe on map". The News & Observer. 
  13. ^ Geraghty, Jim (June 18, 2010). "National Review: 'Just Who Is Bob Etheridge?'". National Public Radio. 
  14. ^ "Palin endorses Ellmers". The News & Observer. August 18, 2010. 
  15. ^ Isenstadt, Alex (August 18, 2010). "Palin adds to 'mama grizzly' pack". Politico. 
  16. ^ Sargent, Greg (September 30, 2010). "Rank anti-mosque bigotry flops as campaign tactic". The Washington Post. 
  17. ^ Elliot, Justin (September 22, 2010). "The most baldly anti-Muslim ad of the year". 
  18. ^ "Poll reveals Etheridge may lose Congressional seat". WTVD. October 29, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Ellmers pulls ahead in recent fundraising". The News & Observer. October 20, 2010. 
  20. ^ Barrett, Barbara (November 20, 2010). "Ellmers wins, recount shows". The Charlotte Observer. 
  21. ^ "NC - District 02 Race - Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  22. ^ "NC District 02- R Primary Race - May 08, 2012". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  23. ^ "NC District 02 Race - Nov 06, 2012". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  24. ^ "Ellmers draws primary challenger" Laura Leslie. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  25. ^ "Democrats ready to take on Ellmers". Under the Dome. Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  26. ^ "Clay Aiken ‘actively considering’ run for Congress: sources" Chris Johnson. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
  27. ^ Christensen, Rob. "Dome: Amendment is too broad to get Ellmers' vote | Under the Dome". Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  28. ^ Tate, Curtis (2011-07-28). "Debt limit fight brings N.C.'s Ellmers close to GOP leadership | Top Stories | Modesto Bee". Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  29. ^ Dumain, Emma (June 21, 2013). "GOP Women Seek Broader Influence With Policy Committee". Roll Call. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  30. ^ "Some North Carolina lawmakers defer pay, Renee Ellmers refuses | Under The Dome". Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  31. ^ Frank, John (2013-10-15). "Renee Ellmers reverses course, will decline her paycheck for duration of shutdown | State Politics". Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  32. ^

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bob Etheridge
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 2nd congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jeff Duncan
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Blake Farenthold