Trump backs Ellmers in North Carolina GOP primary battle

Donald Trump has made his first congressional endorsement by backing GOP North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers in a hotly contested primary battle.

Ellmers is facing fellow GOP Rep. George Holding for the state’s 2nd Congressional District seat, after a federal court panel ordered their districts redrawn.

The decision has forced Ellmers, Holding, 3rd Congressional District, and Dr. Greg Brannon, a two-time Senate candidate, into a three-way primary contest Tuesday.

Ellmers’ campaign released a 40-second robocall Saturday from Trump declaring his support for her re-election.

“I need her help in Washington so we can work together to defeat ISIS, secure our border, and bring back jobs and frankly so many other things,” Trump says. “Renee knows how to do it. She gets it, and together we will make America great again.”

Ellmers told in a statement: “I am proud to be the first member of Congress to have received an endorsement from the Republican nominee and soon-to-be president Donald Trump.”

Ellmers also said Washington “is in desperate need of leaders who aren't beholden to the establishment 'good ole boys' and who aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and get to work for the American people -- and I am honored to have Mr. Trump endorse me as one of these conservative leaders.”

An aide to Holding argued Trump’s backing won’t change the incumbent’s record on the issues.

“Ellmers voted for (President) Obama's omnibus budget deal, voted to support Obama's executive amnesty for illegal immigrants and supported John Kasich in a straw poll during the (GOP) presidential primary,” the aide said Sunday. “Now she's trying to fool voters to get reelected.”

Brannon could not be reached for comment.

Ellmers, elected in 2010, represents about 16 percent of the newly drawn 2nd District, while Holding represents about 60 percent.

Most of North Carolina's primaries were held on March 15, but the court decision forced the Legislature to redraw parts of the congressional map and caused the state to move the House primaries to early June.

Outside groups -- including the pro-life/antiabortion groups the National Right to Life Committee and Susan B. Anthony List -- argue Holding, elected in 2012, is more conservative than Ellmers.

They criticized Ellmers after she temporarily halted and forced changes last year to a House bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.