Representative Simpson: ‘I Think You Can Get Back to Doing Limited Earmarks.’

by Jim Geraghty

Six-term representative Mike Simpson (R., Idaho) is hardly a squish, with a lifetime ACU rating of 81.96.

But his primary challenger, Bryan Smith, argues that he’s not fighting the good fight on some key issues. Smith says that if he were in Congress, he “would not have voted to raise the debt ceiling unless there were major spending cuts. In the case of the recent budget appropriations, he would have only supported it if it reversed the President’s decision to exempt 17,000 people from Obamacare.”

The Club for Growth’s PAC wants to see Simpson replaced; Citizens Against Government Waste rated him a mere 42 percent back in 2011.

Smith’s campaign contends this video from the Idaho Statesman, of Simpson discussing earmarks, reflects him declaring his “love” for earmarks. In the remarks, Simpson begins, “I’ve always been a supporter of earmarks” and attempts to make the case that earmarks represent the way a Republican can influence spending during a Democratic administration. He argues that ending earmarks has effectively turned congressional authority over control of spending over to the executive branch. “I think you can get back to doing limited earmarks, for transportation projects, for water projects, those sorts of things.”

Which option do Republican primary voters dislike more, earmarks or the Obama administration directing spending?

Idaho’s second congressional district is rated as an R+17 district in the Cook Partisan Voting Index.