There are three primaries of interest next Tuesday in Idaho- the one for governor and the two House races. For governor, Tea Party-affiliated candidate and state senator Russ Fulcher will go up against popular current governor Butch Otter. Fulcher's main objection is Otter's endorsement of a state health exchange and thus tacit approval of Obamacare. Given Otter's approval ratings in Idaho, one cannot realistically see Fulcher winning this race. Likewise, if the health exchange is the only talking point against Otter, then Fulcher is in trouble. Therefore, one sees no need to switch course here and this writer endorses the candidacy of Butch Otter.
The 2nd District is one of the most conservative in the country. Incumbent Mike Simpson was first elected in 1998 replacing current Senator Mike Crapo. Although being portrayed as "entrenched," his length of tenure does not justify that moniker to the extent of other incumbent Republicans. Still, there are some issues with Simpson that are being highlighted by his opponent, state senator Bryan Smith. Smith recently received the endorsement of the Club for Growth.
The Wall Street Journal did an article on this battle to illustrate how the business-friendly establishment candidate, here exemplified by Simpson, will fare against the Tea Party faction of the GOP although Bryan is technically not Tea Party-affiliated. This is especially true in the fundraising area. Whereas Simpson has received over 60% of his donations from PACs, Smith has received less than 10% of his contributions from such sources. Even still, Smith's fundraising has been impressive.
As for those issues, Smith correctly points to some Simpson votes that may catch the attention of 2nd District voters. Among them he lists: support for the Cash for Clunkers program, the TARP bail out, repeated earmarking, and support for an Internet tax. Most egregious, however, may be Simpson's vote for the government to fund the now-defunct and still corrupt ACORN. Most political websites have Simpson listed ideologically as a hard-core conservative although his record may be more populist or moderate in reality.
Given the conservative slant of this district, there would be little downside in looking for new, more conservative blood in the House. Furthermore, the Democratic bench of potential candidates is very thin in Idaho. As such, this writer supports the candidacy of challenger Bryan Smith.
In the slightly less Republican First District, Raul Labrador, a rising star in the GOP, will face four primary opponents. He will face hemp activist Sean Blackwell. A visit to his campaign website indicates that either he does not know the rules of proper grammar and how to spell, he ignored his spell check, or that he was just too high to care. Regardless, he proposes a tax on the top 2% of wage earners in the country. Another opponent is college student Mike Greenway who lost a state legislative race, but modestly impressed against a strong candidate with 27.5% of the vote. He may be a consideration in the future (he will turn 25), but now now. Then there is someone named Lisa Marie on the ballot who has apparently not campaigned. Finally, there is Reed McCandless, an architecture student, who challenged Labrador in the 2012 primary and got trounced 81-19%. He will likely repeat that performance this year. Given the options here, the obvious choice is Raul Labrador.