Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1998, 8th term.

Born: September 8, 1950, Burley, ID

Home: Idaho Falls, ID

Education: UT St. U., 1968-72; Washington U., D.D.S. 1977

Professional Career: Practicing dentist, 1977-98.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Mormon

Family: Married (Kathy Johnson)

Mike Simpson, an independent-minded Republican first elected in 1998, would be unusual even if he didn’t represent a portion of one of the nation’s most right-leaning states. He often reaches out to Democrats on economic and social issues and in 2010 refused to take the state Republican Party’s oath endorsing the party platform. Such moves inspired a primary challenge from the right in 2014, but Simpson prevailed with substantial help from the GOP establishment.

Simpson grew up in Blackfoot, became a dentist, and joined his father’s dental practice. He was elected to the City Council in 1980 and to the state House in 1984. He didn’t declare himself as a Republican until then, and was opposed by the local Republican Party. In 1993, he became speaker of the Idaho House, but he kept up his dental practice as well. In the legislature, he was known as a moderate in a predominately conservative chamber, affable and able to get differing sides together. When Republican Gov. Phil Batt announced he would retire in 1998, Simpson wanted to run, but GOP Sen. Dirk Kempthorne’s decision to seek the office closed that option. GOP Rep. Mike Crapo decided to run for Kempthorne’s Senate seat, thus opening up the House race for Simpson.

The seat was hotly contested. In the Republican primary, state Rep. Mark Stubbs called for lower payroll taxes. He had opposed nuclear programs at the Idaho National Laboratory, while Simpson wanted more work at the facility. But the big issue was term limits. Simpson refused to take a pledge to serve only three terms, while the other candidates did. Term-limit advocates spent large sums against Simpson. Angry at the ads, Batt endorsed Simpson five days before the election. Simpson ran ads against “out-of-state folk” interfering with Idaho’s elections. Simpson beat Stubbs 47%-41%.

The Democratic nominee was Richard Stallings, a former history professor elected to the U.S. House in 1984 and reelected three times. In 1992, he ran against Kempthorne for the Senate and lost 57%-43%. Stallings emphasized his conservative voting record in the House, called for more education spending, and said he would act to fix falling farm commodity prices. Simpson called for a smaller federal role in education, tax cuts and the creation of personal investment accounts in Social Security. Simpson won 53%-45%, losing the most well-known parts of the district—Pocatello, Sun Valley, Boise—but carrying just about everything else.

In the House, Simpson’s open-mindedness led Esquire magazine in 2008 to call him one of the 10 best members of Congress, saying he “lives by the philosophy that democratic representation is a matter of finding not advantageous positions but common ground.” He was one of just 16 House Republicans in March 2012 to back a budget plan along the lines of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission, and led a bipartisan group of legislators urging budget negotiators to “go big” and look at raising revenues as well as cutting spending. During subsequent negotiations on spending and taxes aimed at averting a so-called fiscal cliff, he told The Wall Street Journal that many Republicans likely would accept raising tax rates on households earning more than $500,000 or $1 million as long as Democrats backed substantial entitlement cuts.

Simpson was the only member of the Idaho congressional delegation in 2008 to support the $700 billion bailout of the financial markets. When President Barack Obama took office, he supported Democratic bills to rein in credit card companies and predatory housing lenders, and opposed GOP bills to eliminate the Legal Services Corp. as well as reduce funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. He has a contentious relationship with his Idaho GOP colleague Raul Labrador, a hero of the tea party movement. When Labrador reportedly was involved in plotting to oust John Boehner as speaker, Simpson told The Idaho Statesman that his actions were "irresponsible." Labrador responded by calling Simpson "a bully" as well as “an old-school legislator that went to Washington, D.C., to compromise.”

Simpson showed his skills as a party insider in 2003 when he got a seat on the Appropriations Committee, a post he has used to secure funding for the national laboratory in the district, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Army Corps of Engineers. Simpson became a leading defender of appropriations earmarks; he opposed restricting earmarks but supported greater transparency in the process. He rose to become chair of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, and in 2011, successfully fought a Senate Democratic proposal to cut $150 million from the nuclear energy budget while also advocating deep budget cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Simpson has said he would “die trying” to create a Boulder-White Cloud Management Area designating 330,000 acres in central Idaho as wilderness, and he has spent years negotiating the plan with opposing constituencies, only to run into opposition from fellow Idaho Republicans. On another issue of intense Western interest, he and Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester successfully inserted a provision into the April 2011 omnibus spending bill that took wolves off the endangered species list in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah in response to wolves killing livestock. It marked the first time since 1973 that Congress forcibly removed protections from a plant or animal.

Simpson won reelection three times with better than 2-to-1 ratios, but his lead slipped to 62%-34% in 2006, when he faced former Democratic state Rep. Jim Hansen, the son of former Republican Rep. Orval Hansen, who represented the district from 1969 to 1975. Simpson was back on his game in 2008, winning reelection with 71% of the vote.

In 2010, however, his support for the Wall Street bailout and his other independent stances drew two primary opponents, state Rep. Russ Mathews and tea party-backed Chick Heileson, a retired heating contractor. They held Simpson to 58%, his worst primary showing since 1998. He received 69% of the vote in the general election against Democrat Mike Crawford. Two years later, his winning percentage dipped only slightly, to 65%.

By 2014, Simpson's legislative rating from the conservative group Heritage Action was 45% -- 17 percentage points below the House GOP average and far below the ratings of his Idaho colleagues. The anti-tax group Club for Growth made him one of its chief targets and spent more than $500,000 on behalf of Bryan Smith, who sought to portray Simpson as a Washington insider who was captive of special interests. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups responded by pouring in about $4 million on Simpson's behalf, and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney appeared in one of his ads. In the May primary, he coasted to an easy 62%-38% victory.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5531

(202) 225-8216

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2312
Washington, DC 20515-1202

MAIN OFFICE

(208) 367-1927

(208) 342-7518

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2312
Washington, DC 20515-1202

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-5531

(202) 225-8216

802 West Bannock Street Suite 600
Boise, ID 83702-5843

DISTRICT OFFICE

(208) 334-1953

(208) 334-9533

802 West Bannock Street Suite 600
Boise, ID 83702-5843

DISTRICT OFFICE

(208) 523-6701

(208) 523-2384

410 Memorial Drive Suite 203
Idaho Falls, ID 83402-3600

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-5531

(202) 225-8216

410 Memorial Drive Suite 203
Idaho Falls, ID 83402-3600

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-5531

(202) 225-8216

1341 Fillmore Street Suite 202
Twin Falls, ID 83301-3392

DISTRICT OFFICE

(208) 734-7219

(208) 734-7244

1341 Fillmore Street Suite 202
Twin Falls, ID 83301-3392

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-5531

(202) 225-8216

275 South Fifth Avenue Suite 275
Pocatello, ID 83201-3392

DISTRICT OFFICE

(208) 233-2222

(208) 233-2095

275 South Fifth Avenue Suite 275
Pocatello, ID 83201-3392

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 225-5531

(202) 225-8216

802 West Bannock Street Unit LP-104
Boise, ID 83702

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(208) 367-1927

(208) 342-7518

802 West Bannock Street Unit LP-104
Boise, ID 83702

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Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Appropriations

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Sarah Cannon
Legislative Director

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Arts

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Banking

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Budget

Sarah Cannon
Legislative Director

Campaign

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Congress

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Consumers

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Crime

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Disaster

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Economics

Sarah Cannon
Legislative Director

Education

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Julie Tensen
Education Outreach Coordinator; Office Manager

Energy

Sarah Cannon
Legislative Director

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Environment

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Family

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Health

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Homeland Security

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Sarah Cannon
Legislative Director

Human Rights

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Intergovernmental

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Judiciary

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Labor

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Land Use

Sarah Cannon
Legislative Director

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Medicare

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Military

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Native Americans

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Privacy

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Religion

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Science

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Seniors

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Julie Harwood
Senior Outreach Coordinator

Small Business

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Sarah Cannon
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Nicole Wallace
Communications Director; District Director

Trade

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Sarah Cannon
Legislative Director

Veterans

Solara Linehan
Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Billy Valderrama
Legislative Assistant

James Neill
Legislative Assistant; Social Media Manager

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
Mike Simpson
Votes: 131,465
Percent: 61.38%
Richard Stallings
Votes: 82,728
Percent: 38.62%
2012 GENERAL
Mike Simpson
Votes: 207,412
Percent: 65.17%
Nicole LeFavour
Votes: 110,847
Percent: 34.83%
2012 PRIMARY
Mike Simpson
Votes: 50,799
Percent: 69.55%
Chick Heileson
Votes: 22,240
Percent: 30.45%
2010 GENERAL
Mike Simpson
Votes: 137,468
Percent: 68.83%
Mike Crawford
Votes: 48,749
Percent: 24.41%
Brian Schad
Votes: 13,500
Percent: 6.76%
2010 PRIMARY
Mike Simpson
Votes: 45,148
Percent: 58.29%
M. C. "Chick" Heileson
Votes: 18,644
Percent: 24.07%
Russell Mathews
Votes: 7,452
Percent: 9.62%
Katherine Burton
Votes: 6,214
Percent: 8.02%
2008 GENERAL
Mike Simpson
Votes: 205,777
Percent: 71.04%
Deborah Holmes
Votes: 83,878
Percent: 28.96%
2008 PRIMARY
Mike Simpson
Votes: 49,586
Percent: 85.15%
Jack Chappellá
Votes: 4,900
Percent: 8.41%
Gregoryá Nemitzá
Votes: 3,747
Percent: 6.43%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (69%), 2008 (71%), 2006 (62%), 2004 (71%), 2002 (68%), 2000 (71%), 1998 (53%)

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