A GOP Primary Fight to Watch: Smith vs. Simpson in Idaho

by Jim Geraghty

Bryan Smith, a Republican primary challenger to Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho, must be feeling cheery about a splashy debut. Smith raised $147,000 in the second fundraising quarter of 2013, with 96 percent coming from Idaho donors.

In one month, Smith raised more than Simpson’s previous challenger Chick Heileson raised in both his entire 2010 and 2012 races combined. Smith’s campaign website only went up June 26. Smith is the owner of several small businesses in Idaho. Simpson won the 2010 GOP primary with 58 percent of the vote, and the 2012 primary with 69 percent of the vote.

Idaho’s second congressional district scores an R+17 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index, and while Simpson is conservative by national standards, he has irked some conservatives with his votes for TARP, federal projects that some label earmarks, and raising the debt limit. Simpson’s lifetime American Conservative Union rating is 84.5 (out of a possible 100) but his lifetime rating with the Club for Growth is 58 (out of 100). He was one of three House Republicans who voted against an amendment to bar ACORN from receiving federal funds.

According to Open Secrets, Simpson raised a mere $85,850 for this cycle as of March 31, and has $71,827.

Of course, money goes a little further out in Idaho.

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