Chamber of Commerce Attacks Idaho Primary Challenger in TV Ad

The business group is helping Republican Rep. Mike Simpson fight a primary challenge from Bryan Smith in one of 2014’s biggest intra-GOP showdowns.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: U.S. House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) (R) takes questions as other congressional members, including Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) (3rd L), Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) (2nd R) look on during a news conference November 16, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The news conference was to call on the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Supercommittee, 'to go big on deficit reduction.' 
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Scott Bland
Feb. 27, 2014, 5:08 p.m.

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.


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