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Eye On Boise

Simpson challenger says he’s ‘a real conservative’

Bryan Smith (Betsy Russell)
Bryan Smith (Betsy Russell)

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.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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