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Ex-Rep. Renee Ellmers mounts bid for congressional return

December 8, 2021 GMT
FILE- In this May 19, 2016, file photo, Rep. Renee Ellmers listens while facing off with Dr. Greg Brannon and Rep. George Holding during the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary debate at WRAL studio in Raleigh, N.C. Former North Carolina U.S. Rep. Ellmers announced Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, that she will seek the GOP nomination for the state's 4th Congressional District. But the state Supreme Court said later in the day that the primary elections would be pushed back to May 17. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool, File)
FILE- In this May 19, 2016, file photo, Rep. Renee Ellmers listens while facing off with Dr. Greg Brannon and Rep. George Holding during the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary debate at WRAL studio in Raleigh, N.C. Former North Carolina U.S. Rep. Ellmers announced Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, that she will seek the GOP nomination for the state's 4th Congressional District. But the state Supreme Court said later in the day that the primary elections would be pushed back to May 17. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool, File)
FILE- In this May 19, 2016, file photo, Rep. Renee Ellmers listens while facing off with Dr. Greg Brannon and Rep. George Holding during the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary debate at WRAL studio in Raleigh, N.C. Former North Carolina U.S. Rep. Ellmers announced Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, that she will seek the GOP nomination for the state's 4th Congressional District. But the state Supreme Court said later in the day that the primary elections would be pushed back to May 17. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Former North Carolina U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers announced Wednesday that she will seek a congressional comeback.

The former Republican congresswoman who has been a staunch ally and early supporter of former President Donald Trump said in a news release that she is “100% on board with President Trump’s Make America Great agenda,” a political framework she called “desperately needed.”

Ellmers wrote on Twitter that she would formally file for the 4th Congressional District on Friday, but that was upended late Wednesday afternoon when the state Supreme Court directed elections officials to hold the 2022 primaries for all offices on May 17 instead of March 8.

The 4th District includes many communities Ellmers represented from 2011 to 2017. The newly drawn district also includes her home in Harnett County.

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Despite having the backing of Trump, Ellmers lost her 2016 primary reelection bid by nearly 30 percentage points after being placed in a district where she had to compete against Rep. George Holding, another sitting Republican member of Congress. She also ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2020, when she placed fifth in a field of nine candidates in a race that current GOP Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson decisively won.

Ellmers, who was the first congresswoman to support then-candidate Donald Trump and now works as a registered nurse, will run in one of three U.S. House districts expected to be somewhat competitive in November 2022, though Republicans are expected to win the seat.

“Joe Biden is trying to tear apart the very foundations on which this country was formed,” she said in a statement. “We need experienced people to counter his agenda of destruction on Capitol Hill and I’m ready to go and be part of that fight to get our country back on track.”

State Rep. John Szoka, a Cumberland County Republican, is among the small handful of candidates who has already filed for the GOP primary. Former Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson also submitted his paperwork with the state.

Bo Hines, a former North Carolina State University wide receiver and forceful Trump loyalist, this summer announced a bid for a congressional seat in the surrounding Greensboro area before the GOP unveiled its newly drawn maps. He is backed by North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn.

If U.S. Senate candidate and former Rep. Mark Walker decides to run in the district Hines had announced his candidacy for, Hines may move to the 4th district, where he could compete against Ellmers, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press that Cawthorn handed Trump over the weekend.

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The handout titled “Congressman Cawthorn’s plan for North Carolina” lists Hines in the 4th District and Walker in the 7th. But Wednesday’s announcement from the state Supreme Court will delay the filing period, which had begun on Wednesday for U.S. House and North Carolina General Assembly candidates.

Hines has not yet filed with the State Board of Elections, and his campaign did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Candidate filing was set to end Dec. 17, but the filing period is now delayed in light of the Supreme Court’s decision. The court ordered the primary pushed back to give state courts time to consider legal challenges from groups accusing Republicans of drawing maps that are partisan and racial gerrymanders.

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Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson.

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Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.