RALEIGH — Jim Duncan, the chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party, said Wednesday that he is beginning an exploratory effort to challenge 2nd District Republican Renee Ellmers in a primary next year.
Duncan, a retired computer industry leasing executive, didn’t offer any direct criticism of Ellmers, but he said there was “a craving for leadership.”
He said he would spend the next month talking to people across the district about a possible congressional bid before deciding to run. The primary is scheduled for May.
“Many representatives are building a career and look upon it as changing their station in life,” Duncan said. “That as a citizen is a concern. I think we got it backwards. I wouldn’t speak to any specifics concerning Renee. But I have a concern about how our representatives across the board are doing at this point.”
Duncan, 65, is the son of a New York police detective who was born in South Carolina. He has become heavily involved in Republican politics, helping rebuild the Chatham County GOP in recent years. He is also a co-founder of the Coalition for American Principles, a nonpartisan group active in 2010 to help elect conservatives in Chatham, Orange and Wake counties.
He said he is prepared to make “a significant commitment” of money to the campaign.
“When I look at a bill I’m going to ask: Is it constitutional?” Duncan said. “Then I’m going to ask what does it cost? Will it give us the return it’s supposed to give us? I am a team player, but a team player doesn’t compromise on principles.”
Duncan has been involved in a number of civic activities including the Upper Room Academy in Raleigh and the Durham Boys and Girls Club.
The 2nd District includes much of western and southern Wake County as well as portions of Alamance, Chatham, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Moore and Randolph counties.
Ellmers was elected in 2010 with tea party support as an opponent of the Affordable Care Act. But she has been criticized by some tea party figures for not being willing to go far enough to try to block the implementation of the health care law.
On Wednesday, Ellmers participated in a news conference with several other GOP lawmakers in Washington to unveil new legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
She sponsored a bill drawn up by the Republican Study Committee that would be a GOP alternative to the new law – called the American Health Care Reform Act.
The bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act; would allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines; allow small businesses to form insurance pools, institute medical malpractice reform; allow individuals and families to deduct health care costs; expand Health Savings Accounts; and bolster state-based, high-risk pools to help more people with pre-existing conditions get insurance.
“This bill relied on patient-centered solutions while addressing critical reforms,” Ellmers said in a statement.
“Vital improvements to our current health care system have been carefully introduced into this legislation.”
“This is only the beginning as we continue to fight for all Americans and prevent the danger lurking on our doorstep with the implementation of Obamacare set to take effect on Oct. 1,” Ellmers said.
Parts of the Affordable Care Act have already gone into effect, such as the ability of adults to enroll their children on their health insurance policy up to age 26.
Oct. 1 is when enrollment begins for the state insurance exchanges that will take effect Jan. 1.