Club for Growth endorses opponent of ‘crazy liberal’ Simpson; Simpson says he’s ready

Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson on Wednesday became the target of the anti-tax group Club for Growth, which called Simpson a “RINO,” Republican in Name Only, and grouping him with other “Crazy Liberals” in a blog post featuring Wednesday’s news release.

The blog’s topic field was subsequently amended to “Elections,” but this screen shot captures the “Crazy Liberals” characterization.

blog post

blog post

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said first-time candidate Bryan Smith, an Idaho Falls lawyer, is the club’s first crowd-sourced endorsement. The 2nd District race will be decided in the May 2014 GOP primary.

Said Chocola, a former Indiana GOP congressman, “Bryan Smith is a champion of economic freedom and a fighter for lower taxes and limited government. We met with Bryan months ago after hearing about him through PrimaryMyCongressman.com, and we’re confident that he’ll be a strong conservative alternative to RINO incumbent Mike Simpson. The Club for Growth PAC is proud to endorse his candidacy.”

In a subsequent phone interview, Chocola said Smith was the leading vote-getter in the club’s first online endorsement process, receiving more votes than other opponents lining up against nine other GOP club targets. The news release says hundreds of votes were received and “dozens of recommendations” for Smith, though Chocola declined to supply a vote count.

Asked whether Simpson deserved to be categorized as a “crazy liberal,” Chocola, who served with Simpson from 2003-2007, said, “He qualifies as a RINO.”

(After the interview, the author of the club’s blog post, Communications Director Barney Keller, called to complain about the “crazy liberal” headline on the Idaho Politics blog. I amended the post to make it clear the “crazy liberal” title grouped the news release on Simpson with other “Crazy Liberal” blog posts on the club website. Soon after, the website dropped the Simpson news from its list of  “Crazy Liberal” posts).

Chocola noted Simpson’s lifetime 58 percent score on the Club for Growth’s scorecard, among the lowest for House Republicans. Meanwhile, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney received 64 percent of the vote in the 2nd District.

Apparently anticipating the endorsement, Simpson issued a news release about two hours before the Smith endorsement, saying he’d raised more than $300,000 between April and June. In 2006, Club for Growth spent $1.1 million to elect 1st District GOP Rep. Bill Sali in a race for an open seat. In 2010, Club for Growth helped tea party candidate Mike Lee defeat three-term U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah.

Smith, who announced his campaign last month, has yet to file a campaign finance report. But his campaign manager, Carrie Brown, said Smith had raised $149,000 in the 2nd quarter, $99,000 from individuals and $50,000 he contributed himself. Reports are due July 15.

Simpson announced his haul in a news release sent shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday. Simpson has drawn right-wing critics as a leader in the “Go Big Coalition,” a bipartisan group of about 100 lawmakers who say a long-term solution to the nation’s debt and deficit woes is a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

A confidant of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Simpson has never dropped below 62 percent in the general election since his first election in 1998. But in the four-way GOP primary in 2010, he fell to 58 percent, with Chick Hieleson second with 24 percent. In a 2012 rematch, Simpson beat Heileson, 70 percent to 30 percent. Smith was a Heileson supporter.

“I look forward to sharing my conservative accomplishments, and much more, with Idaho voters over the coming months and engaging in a robust discussion about the economy, job creation, and my vision for the prosperous future of our state and nation,” Simpson said in the release. “I am confident that the totality of my career, and the conservative record I have established, are consistent with the values and expectations of the people of Idaho.”

Club for Growth played the key role in electing Sali in 2006, spending the $1.1 million on direct contributions and independent ads that boosted Sali to win a six-way GOP primary for an open seat being vacated by now-Gov. Butch Otter. Sali won with 26 percent of the vote. In the five-way general election, Sali carried 49.9 percent of the vote. But running without Club for Growth’s largesse in 2008, Sali lost to Democrat Walt Minnick. The 1st District seat is now held by GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, who beat Minnick in 2010.

Simpson, chairman of a subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, has easily out-spent opponents since he defeated former Democratic Rep. Richard Stallings in 1998. In the 2012 election cycle, he raised $1.2 million, defeating Democrat Nicole LeFavour with 65 percent in November.

Simpson’s FEC report wasn’t yet available on the commission’s website Wednesday morning, but campaign manager Brody Aston said it would be filed on time. “Our accountant gave us the numbers yesterday and we thought it would be a good time to release them,” Aston said.

Club for Growth raises money through its political action committee, which contributes directly to candidates; bundles contributions from club members for candidates; and makes independent expenditures through its 527 committee.

Simpson’s news release is available in the link above, but also follows:

Simpson Reports Record High Fundraising

Simpson campaign reports record setting quarter

 

Boise, ID – Congressman Mike Simpson received a tremendous response to his conservative message of limited government and fiscal discipline in recording one of his most successful fundraising quarters ever.  Simpson raised over $300,000 this quarter alone – the largest amount raised since his first election and he has nearly $350,000 in the bank.

“I consider serving the people of Idaho my highest honor, and I appreciate the opportunity my fellow Idahoans have given me to represent them, “ said Simpson. “I look forward to sharing my conservative accomplishments, and much more, with Idaho voters over the coming months and engaging in a robust discussion about the economy, job creation, and my vision for the prosperous future of our state and nation.  I am confident that the totality of my career, and the conservative record I have established, are consistent with the values and expectations of the people of Idaho.”

Congressman Simpson is a proud conservative who enjoys an A plus rating with the NRA, a 100 percent rating with National Right to Life, and annual recognition from the American Conservative Union.  He has authored billions of dollars in cuts to the EPA, the delisting of wolves, and protections for Idaho’s farmers and ranchers. Simpson fought Obamacare, pushed a balanced budget amendment, and voted repeatedly to lower taxes on all Americans.  Simpson’s campaign is extremely confident it will have the resources and organization needed to wage an aggressive and successful campaign.

 

Club for Growth’s blog post on the endorsement follows:

Topic: Crazy Liberals

Club for Growth PAC Endorses Bryan Smith for Congress

Posted on Jul. 10, 13 | 12:04 PM by Barney Keller | Topic: Crazy Liberals


 Club for Growth President Chris Chocola: “We met with Bryan months ago after hearing about him through PrimaryMyCongressman.com, and we’re confident that he’ll be a strong conservative alternative to RINO incumbent Mike Simpson.”

Washington, DC – The Club for Growth PAC today announced that it is endorsing Idaho Falls lawyer Bryan Smith for Congress in Idaho’s Second Congressional District. The district is currently held by incumbent Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID).

At the bottom of this release, a timeline is provided showing how the Club for Growth PAC, for the first time in history, used the internet to solicit a viable primary challenger to an incumbent member of Congress.

“Bryan Smith is a champion of economic freedom and a fighter for lower taxes and limited government,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “We met with Bryan months ago after hearing about him through PrimaryMyCongressman.com, and we’re confident that he’ll be a strong conservative alternative to RINO incumbent Mike Simpson. The Club for Growth PAC is proud to endorse his candidacy.”

“Career politician Mike Simpson is one of the biggest liberals in the Republican Party today. He voted to bail out Wall Street, to raise the debt limit by trillions, and for the fiscal cliff tax increase. He was one of just three Republicans who voted against cutting funding for the radical left-wing group ACORN. If all that weren’t bad enough, Mike Simpson is one of the biggest defenders of wasteful earmarks in the history of Congress and a big spender who even voted against cutting the spending out of the Obama stimulus. It’s time for Idaho voters to throw Mike Simpson out, and Bryan Smith is the man to replace him,” concluded Chocola.

Timeline of the Club for Growth PAC’s efforts in Idaho’s Second Congressional District

 ·        February 27th, 2013: www.PrimaryMyCongressman.com is launched
·        March, 2013: Hundreds of submissions are made to www.PrimaryMyCongressman.com
·        April, 2013: Club staff review submissions, notice a high interest from Idaho voters in replacing Mike Simpson, and also notice dozens of recommendations for “Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls”
·        April 12th, 2013: Club for Growth staff member contacts Smith at his law office, mentions the strong local support Smith received on www.PrimaryMyCongressman.com and asks if he’s interested in running for Congress against Simpson
·        May 6th, 2013: Club staff interview Smith at Club offices in Washington, D.C. and begins conducting due diligence on Smith
·        May 30th, 2013: Club for Growth receives results from a poll in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional district, finding Simpson extremely vulnerable to a challenge from Smith
·        June 27th, 2013: Bryan Smith announces his candidacy for Congress against Mike Simpson
·        Today: The Club for Growth PAC endorses Bryan Smith for Congress

 

Finally, Smith’s campaign news release:

For Immediate Release – July 10, 2013

Contact: Carrie Brown (208) 538-9683 or carrie@bryansmithforcongress.com

The Club for Growth Endorses Bryan Smith for Idaho’s Second Congressional District

Idaho Falls – Today, the Club for Growth endorsed conservative Republican Bryan Smith in the primary for Idaho’s second congressional district against eight-term incumbent Rep. Mike Simpson.

“I am honored to have the endorsement and support of the Club for Growth. It is a group that shares the same conservative principles and values as I do and values I wish to bring to Washington,” said Bryan Smith.

“Bryan Smith is a champion of economic freedom and a fighter for lower taxes and limited government,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “We met with Bryan months ago after hearing about him through PrimaryMyCongressman.com, and we’re confident that he’ll be a strong conservative alternative to RINO incumbent Mike Simpson. The Club for Growth PAC is proud to endorse his candidacy.

Career politician Mike Simpson is one of the biggest liberals in the Republican Party today. He voted to bail out Wall Street, to raise the debt limit by trillions, and for the fiscal cliff tax increase. He was one of just three Republicans who voted against cutting funding for the radical left-wing group ACORN. If all that weren’t bad enough, Mike Simpson is one of the biggest defenders of wasteful earmarks in the history of Congress and a big spender who even voted against cutting the spending out of the Obama stimulus. It’s time for Idaho voters to throw Mike Simpson out, and Bryan Smith is the man to replace him,” concluded Chocola.

Last week the Bryan Smith for Congress campaign released their second quarter fundraising numbers. Smith raised $149,400 in the second fundraising quarter of 2013, 96 percent of which came from Idaho donors. Smith’s fundraising total is all the more impressive compared with previous Republican challengers to Rep. Simpson. In just one month, Bryan Smith has raised more than previous challenger Chick Heileson raised in both his entire 2010 and 2012 races combined.

Bryan Smith is a conservative Republican running for Idaho’s second congressional district. He is running against 16-year incumbent and big spending politician Mike Simpson. Bryan and his wife live in Idaho Falls.

 

 

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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