The list of endorsements for incumbent second Congressional District Mike Simpson reads like a Who’s Who of Idaho’s Republican establishment.
There are 23 sitting GOP legislators, some of whom occupy the Statehouse’s most powerful leadership positions, including Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill and Speaker of the House Scott Bedke. Two of Simpson’s supporters — Maxine Bell of Jerome and Rupert’s Dean Cameron — served in the legislature during Simpson’s tenure, which ended in 1998.
So did Lenore Barrett, a Challis Republican who’s backing Idaho Falls’ Bryan Smith, Simpson’s challenger in the 2014 primary.
Smith’s list of endorsements contrasts Simpson’s and shows his appeal with the hard right of eastern Idaho’s political continuum. Fellow Idaho Falls residents Barb Ehardt, Doyle Beck and Brett Manwaring have long been active in Bonneville County’s Republican organization. In November, Ehardt won a spot on the Idaho Falls City Council, unseating long-time incumbent Karen Cornwell.
Smith received endorsements from at least eight legislators, two of whom — Idaho Falls’ Janet Trujillo and Pete Nielsen of Mountain Home — live in the Congressional District he’s running to represent. The other six live in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, which Raul Labrador represents in Washington, D.C.