Smith is challenging Rep. Mike Simpson in the May 20 primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Two weeks from the primary, the tea party rival to Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson is up with a new TV ad accusing the eight-term incumbent of supporting “amnesty.”
“Why are the Washington, D.C., special interests spending millions to prop up Mike Simpson?” a female narrator asks in attorney Bryan Smith’s ad. “Because he supports a scheme to give amnesty to illegal aliens.”
The race for Idaho’s 2nd District is one of the premiere House race face-offs between tea party groups and the pragmatic wing of the Republican party. Simpson is a close ally of House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.
However, one of Smith’s biggest backers, the Club for Growth, cut spending on the race in recent weeks, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Smith’s ad is backed by a $140,000 buy in the Boise, Twin Falls and Idaho Falls media markets, according to a campaign spokeswoman. Idaho is relatively inexpensive to air TV advertising.
In the immigration debate, the use of the word “amnesty” can range from granting illegal immigrants citizenship to anything short of immediate deportation.
A spokeswoman for the Smith campaign clarified Smith’s definition of “amnesty.”
“Giving people legal status when they are here illegally without having them return to their country of origin is amnesty,” Smith spokeswoman Carrie Brown wrote in an email. “It is not fair to the people that have gone through the system legally.”
Simpson’s backers in Washington are increasingly confident he will survive the challenge in the May 20 primary.
The race is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.