Simpson Overwhelms Tea Party Rival in Idaho Primary
Posted at 12:20 a.m. on May 21
Simpson was re-nominated Tuesday and is now favored to win a ninth term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
A fierce tea-party-backed primary challenge in Idaho came up short Tuesday, as Republican Rep. Mike Simpson won his party’s nomination and is headed for a ninth term.
With a little help from his friends, Simpson, an appropriator and one of the most targeted GOP incumbents of the cycle, brushed back an effort to oust him by the Club for Growth, which supported attorney Bryan Smith.
Simpson led 63 percent to 37 percent when the Associated Press called the race with 36 percent of precincts reporting.
More than $3 million was spent on this GOP primary, but much of it was spent in support of Simpson, a close ally of Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio. Groups like the Defending Main Street PAC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association, along with issue-specific political action committees, rallied behind Simpson to spend more than $2 million on his behalf.
The club and Senate Conservatives Fund combined to spend about $500,000 for Smith, but the club scaled back its media buys in in recent weeks.
Beyond Idaho, Smith’s loss means the group’s “Primary My Congressman” campaign will likely result in the loss of no incumbents this cycle — though the club is supporting candidates outside of that program. According to its website, Simpson was the only incumbent officially targeted, and the filing deadlines have lapsed in the home states of all the other members named.
The race is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.