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Posts tagged: Bryan Smith

Simpson, Smith spar in TV debate

Congressman Mike Simpson and his GOP challenger Bryan Smith had a lively debate on Idaho Public TV tonight, as part of the “Idaho Debates,” sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. “Our country has seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” declared Smith, a lawyer from Idaho Falls and a political newcomer who’s backed by the Club for Growth. “Sadly, career politicians in Washington like Congressman Simpson have become part of the problem. … I am a true conservative who is not afraid to stand up for us.”

Simpson said the people backing Smith are opposed to funding for the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the biggest employers in eastern Idaho. “They’re opposed to the ag bill, they’re opposed to everything,” he said. Simpson said it didn’t work to shut down the government in an effort to force the repeal of Obamacare. “We didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish,” he said. “Shutting down the government doesn’t work. What you’ve got to do is elect Republicans to the Senate so that we have somebody to work with, so that we can actually get this budget balanced again and get it on a path toward balance.”

Simpson said, “We might not like it but there are Democrats actually in Congress, and they control the Senate and they control the White House. If you’re going to get anything done, it’s going to be done by working together both within your party and across party lines.” Failing that, he said, “You’ll just be howling at the moon.”

Smith said, “Washington doesn’t have a tax problem, they have a spending problem. … We need to focus on cutting the budget,” saying he’d first go after “redundant spending” and that he’d cut the Department of Education, saying, “The word education does not appear in the Constitution.” You can watch the full debate online here.

Congressional candidate built career in part on going after people for unpaid medical bills

As the 2nd District congressional race heats up, with money pouring in from outside groups and name-calling ads from both sides on TV in southern Idaho, Idaho Statesman reporter Sven Berg took a look Sunday at GOP challenger Bryan Smith and his career as an attorney in Idaho Falls. Smith, whom incumbent Congressman Mike Simpson is criticizing in TV ads as a “personal injury lawyer,” actually has made his career as something of a debt collector, Berg reports, founding or co-owning two firms that buy unpaid medical debt from doctors and other creditors, and working closely with Smith’s law firm, sue the debtors who don’t pay, forcing wage garnishments and bankruptcies.  

An Idaho Falls bankruptcy attorney estimated that one of the firms has triggered a third to half of Bonneville County’s bankruptcies in recent years. Berg’s full report is online here.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce launches pro-Simpson ads in Idaho

Idaho's 2nd District congressional race is back in the national news this morning, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launches ads backing Congressman Mike Simpson and two West Virginia Republicans; the AP reports that business groups are increasingly stepping up to back pro-business Republicans against tea party backed challengers. Simpson faces a challenge from Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith, who's being backed by the Club for Growth, the same national group that promoted former GOP Idaho Congressman Bill Sali when he won a multi-way primary before serving a single term in Idaho's 1st District congressional seat.

In response to the news of the Chamber's pro-Simpson ad, the Club For Growth sent out a press release this morning headed, “Mike Simpson's Pro-Bailout, Pro-Obama Stimulus Pro-Debt Allies Try to Save His Flailing Candidacy,” sharply criticizing the Chamber. Simpson is an eighth-term Republican congressman, a dentist, and the former speaker of the Idaho House; click below for the national AP story about the U.S Chamber's move.

Idaho ‘ground zero’ as rift in GOP moves from Congress to campaign trail

Idaho’s not only getting national attention for the gripping back-country manhunt that rescued a 16-year-old California girl from her kidnapper over the weekend, and for the wildly spreading wildfires now threatening hundreds of homes. It’s our politics, too. Politico today called Idaho “ground zero” for what it describes as a proxy fight for a rift in the national GOP, writing, “The tensions dividing Republicans in Congress are now spilling onto the campaign trail.” The article highlights 2nd District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson’s primary challenge from Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith, who the Club for Growth is claiming credit for recruiting to run. It notes that House Speaker John Boehner will visit Boise later this month to headline a fundraiser for Simpson; you can read the article here.

Politico says the 2014 midterm elections “will likely feature a long list of primaries in which House and Senate incumbents will encounter significant threats from insurgent challengers,” though it predicts the vast majority of the incumbents will win.

Candidate flying around district on supporter’s plane, may violate fed law

A Republican U.S. House candidate in Idaho has been flying to campaign and political events on a private airplane owned by one of his biggest supporters, even though federal law generally forbids prospective office holders from flying on non-commercial aircraft, the AP reports. Bryan Smith, an Idaho Falls lawyer seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson in Idaho's 2nd Congressional District in next May's GOP primary, flew on June 27 to campaign events in Boise, Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls aboard an airplane owned by Phenix of Idaho, a construction company and federal government contractor founded by Doyle Beck, a Smith backer whose family has given the GOP candidate nearly $13,000 for the primary race against Simpson next year. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Of politics, an all-in challenger, and ‘rhetorical sloppiness’

Idaho Statesman political columnist Dan Popkey reports today that 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson’s GOP challenger, Bryan Smith, is going “all in” on his challenge against the eight-term congressman, taking a sabbatical from his Idaho Falls law practice from this month through next May and donating, not loaning, $50,000 to kick-start his campaign; you can read Popkey’s full report here. Popkey also notes some “rhetorical sloppiness” on Smith’s part, however, including Smith’s much-repeated claim that Simpson was “one of only three Republicans who voted in favor of funding ACORN with your tax dollars.”

Actually, Popkey notes, the group that went out of business in 2010 after a YouTube video in 2009 showed employees advising clients how to hide prostitution and not pay taxes was the target of a de-funding bill of which Simpson was an original co-sponsor in September 2009, after which Simpson authored his own ban on funding for ACORN in his appropriations subcommittee; in all, Simpson voted 28 times against funding the group.

“Smith, however, has cherry-picked a symbolic House vote on a June 2011 amendment brought by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to bar spending on more than 100 groups,” Popkey writes. “King said during floor debate he could not provide information on why some groups were on his list, prompting Simpson to join 165 Democrats in voting no. Simpson’s aim was not to fund the already-defunct ACORN, but to protest King’s lack of preparation. An hour later, Simpson voted for the Homeland Security spending bill on final passage, including the successful amendment.“

Popkey reports that Smith wouldn’t talk to him about this, but his campaign manager, Carrie Brown, sent this statement: “No amount of spinning by Congressman Simpson or his allies in the liberal press can change that Simpson was one of only three Republicans to oppose defunding ACORN and similar groups.” Wrote Popkey, “Idahoans know Mike Simpson too well to buy such distortion. For Smith to give Simpson a real fight, he may wish to take more time vetting his talking points before most primary voters start paying close attention.”

Historical odds against Smith beating Simpson in primary: 23-1

The odds are against 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson being defeated by GOP primary challenger Bryan Smith – by 23 to 1, reports Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey. That’s based on a review of Idaho election history by a University of Minnesota political scientist, who found that in the 61 congressional elections since Idaho became a state, 96 percent of incumbent congressmen have won their party’s nomination. Only one Idaho incumbent has lost his party’s nomination in the modern era, with three of the four upsets coming between 1908 and 1918. Since 1918, the incumbent renomination success rate is almost 99 percent, 81 out of 82, and the one exception was when well-known Idaho politician George Hansen made his comeback run. You can read Popkey’s full post here.

Moderate GOP group pledges to match Club for Growth spending ‘dollar for dollar’ to defend Simpson

A national moderate Republican group is pledging to match the Club for Growth’s anti-Mike Simpson spending “dollar for dollar” in the upcoming GOP primary race, Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports, promising to make the 2nd District  Idaho GOP congressional contest in 2014 a target of big national money on both sides. Simpson’s GOP challenger, Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith, already has been endorsed by the Club for Growth, which funneled $1.1 million into one-term Idaho GOP Rep. Bill Sali’s victory in a six-way GOP primary in 2006, and has promised to immediately begin “bundling” contributions to Smith from its members across the country. The group also said it recruited Smith to take on Simpson, a move the group said showed “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.”

Now, Popkey reports, the group Main Street Advocacy, headed by former GOP Rep. Steve LaTourette, is working to raise $8 million to counter the Club for Growth’s efforts in GOP primary races, and has made Simpson its first pick for support. “The days of the Club for Growth using their special interest money to bigfoot Republican primaries and bully members of Congress is over,” LaTourette in a news release. “We at Main Street Advocacy will fight them dollar for dollar in districts across this country.” You can read Popkey’s full post here.

Simpson challenger’s fundraising so far a family affair

First-time candidate Bryan Smith, who’s challenging 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson in the GOP primary, has filed his first campaign finance report, and Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey reports that it shows fundraising for Smith so far has been a family affair – with $77,400 of his $149,400 raised for the quarter coming from 18 couples, along with one other relative in the same household. A dozen pairs gave $2,600 each. Another $50,000 came from Smith’s own pocket in a loan to his campaign committee, Popkey reports; you can read his full post here.

Simpson, meanwhile, raised $305,735 in the same period, according to his July quarterly report, with $214,500 from PACs and $91,235 from individuals.

Smith says he’s ‘honored’ to have Club for Growth backing

Bryan Smith, the Idaho Falls attorney running against 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson, today welcomed the Club for Growth’s announcement that it’s endorsing him – an announcement that came along with the news that the Washington, D.C. group had actually specifically recruited him to run against Simpson, a move the group said showed “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.”

“I am honored to have the endorsement and support of the Club for Growth,” Smith said in a news release. “It is a group that shares the same conservative principles and values as I do and values I wish to bring to Washington.” Smith’s release also quoted extensively from today’s Club for Growth news release, repeating quotes from Club for Growth president Chris Chocola decrying Simpson. Click below for Smith’s full release.

Club for Growth says it recruited Smith to run against Simpson

The Club for Growth, the national group that funneled money to bankroll one-term 1st District Idaho Rep. Bill Sali’s run for Congress in 2006, announced today that it not only is endorsing 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson’s GOP primary challenger, Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls – it actually recruited him and got him to run for the seat.

The Washington, D.C.-based group sent out a timeline “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,” saying it launched a website, www.PrimaryMyCongressman, in late February; tallied up submissions over the next month and a half and noticed “dozens of recommendations” for Smith as a challenger for Simpson; contacted Smith on April 12 at his law office to ask if he was interested in running; interviewed him May 6 at the Club for Growth offices in Washington, D.C.; and Smith announced his candidacy June 27.

“We’re confident that he’ll be a strong conservative alternative to RINO incumbent Mike Simpson,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “The Club for Growth PAC is proud to endorse his candidacy.” Smith, an attorney and first-time candidate, says he’s already raised $147,000 for his run, but his campaign finance report hasn’t yet been filed, showing the numbers or sources of the funds.The “primary my congressman” website lists 10 incumbents for whom the group was seeking challengers; only Simpson is shown as having drawn one as a result.

In 2006, with Club for Growth’s generous support, Sali won a six-way GOP primary for an open seat with just 25.8 percent of the vote, then went on to defeat Democrat Larry Grant in the general election, 49.94 percent to 44.8 percent. Two years later, Sali lost to Democrat Walt Minnick, who beat him with 50.6 percent of the vote to Sali’s 49.4 percent. Minnick served one term; that seat is now held by second-term GOP Rep. Raul Labrador.

Simpson, the former speaker of the Idaho House, is a dentist from Blackfoot who served 14 years in the state Legislature before being elected to Congress in 1998, where he’s served since; he now chairs a key appropriations subcommittee. Since he beat Democrat Richard Stallings in 1998 with 52.5 percent of the vote to win the seat, Simpson’s never fallen below 62 percent in the general election; in three elections, in 2000, 2004 and 2008, he got more than 70 percent of the vote.

Click below to read the Club for Growth’s full announcement.

Simpson challenger says he’s ‘a real conservative’

Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith is shooting high in his first run for public office: He’s running against 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson. “Our country has gotten off on the wrong track,” Smith declared at an announcement in Boise this morning, the first of four stops throughout the southern Idaho district as he announces his candidacy today. He decried federal debt, unemployment, and “too many hard-working people struggling to live their American dream,” and said some of the wealthiest counties in the nation are in Washington, D.C., a place he dubbed “recession-proof.” “Washington, D.C. is living off our tax dollars,” Smith said. “Sadly, Congressman Simpson, while a nice guy, has become part of the problem after 30 long years in government.”

Smith’s platform includes no tax increases, “no more pork spending,” and “repeal Obamacare entirely,” and he describes himself as “pro-jobs, pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment.” His campaign signs proclaim, “A Real Conservative for Congress.”

GOP activist Rod Beck, who attended Smith’s Boise announcement along with a dozen supporters, said, “He’s the first credible opponent to Mike Simpson since 1998. He’s raising money, he’s doing all the things that a credible candidate should be doing.”

Simpson, the former speaker of the Idaho House, is a dentist from Blackfoot who served 14 years in the state Legislature before being elected to Congress in 1998, where he’s served since; he now chairs a key appropriations subcommittee, where today he pledged to turn the fiscal year 2014 environment appropriations bill into a battleground over President Obama’s plans for new rules and regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Simpson was re-elected last year with 65.1 percent of the vote; in the GOP primary, he garnered 69.6 percent. Since he beat Democrat Richard Stallings in 1998 with 52.5 percent of the vote to win the seat, Simpson’s never fallen below 62 percent in the general election; in three elections, in 2000, 2004 and 2008, he got more than 70 percent of the vote.

“I don’t take lightly challenging a sitting U.S. Congressman for a Republican primary,” Smith said. He’s a Boise native, a Nampa High School graduate, and holds an English degree from BYU and a law degree with honors from McGeorge School of Law; the son of a baker and a homemaker, he was the first in his family to go to college. His and his wife Sharon have five children and live in Idaho Falls. “I am not a politician,” Smith said. “I am a true conservative who will fight for us.”

Idaho Falls attorney files to run against 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson has a Republican primary challenger for Idaho's 2nd Congressional District seat with still 11 months to go until the election. Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to be Simpson's opponent in May 2014, running as a Republican. Simpson has been in office since 1998 and has easily beaten primary and general election opponents, including tea party-backed candidate Chick Heileson during the last two contests. Meanwhile, Smith has taken a prominent role in Idaho Falls affairs, including criticizing former city attorney Dale Storer who quit last September after acknowledging he overbilled the city for his legal work. The 51-year-old Smith plans to make a formal announcement later on his challenge to Simpson to represent the congressional district that covers eastern Idaho, including some parts of Boise.

Incidentally, reporter Melissa Davlin reports on her blog here that a Facebook event page for Smith's announcement was created by GOP activist Rod Beck.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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