Election Central

Simpson backer LaTourette defends anti-tea party ads on NPR

Rep. Steve LaTourette, the former Ohio Republican congressman who is leading an effort to back Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, appeared on NPR’s “Morning Edition” Friday to defend a new TV ad blasting tea party candidates who he ways are dragging down the GOP.

In a 5-minute interview, LaTourette says 99.9 percent of tea party members are involved for the “right reasons,” but a few are extremists whose views will prevent the GOP from winning back the Senate. His Main Street Partnership is vowing to match spending by Club for Growth against Simpson and other mainstream Republicans against tea party challengers.

Simpson faces his toughest race since he was first elected in 1998, with a challenge from Idaho Falls lawyer Bryan Smith in the May 2014 Republican primary. Smith is relying heavily on Idaho’s tea party network to upset Simpson, a friend of LaTourette and of another Ohioan, House Speaker John Boehner.

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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