Less than three months before Rep. Mike Simpson faces voters in a highly anticipated Republican primary, one of his outside allies is going on Idaho TV with an attack against his challenger.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will start airing a new TV ad Friday that begins by criticizing Republican attorney Bryan Smith as a “trial lawyer” who opposed efforts to curtail frivolous lawsuits. The spot then pivots to Simpson, who the Chamber calls “Idaho Strong” and, three times in 15 seconds, “conservative.”
Smith is running a vigorous primary campaign against Simpson, an eight-term veteran who, despite representing a safely Republican district, may be one of the more endangered members of Congress thanks to longstanding trouble with the conservative base in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District. An handful of underfunded challengers held Simpson to less than 60 percent of the GOP primary vote in 2010, criticizing him for a voting record that included support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the infamous “Wall Street bailout.”
This year, Smith has raised enough funds to be a threat. The challenger has also attracted help from conservative outside groups, including the deep-pocketed, anti-tax Club for Growth, which criticizes Simpson as a bailout supporter and earmark “evangelist” — but does so from a much louder megaphone than past Simpson antagonists.
That’s why the Chamber is involved, alongside other groups and prominent Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner, who came to Idaho last summer to raise money for Simpson. The Chamber of Commerce also ran another TV ad supporting Simpson in December.
Idaho’s primary is May 20.