Popkey: Yet another out-of-state group jumps into Simpson-Smith race

dpopkey@idahostatesman.comSeptember 11, 2013 

Another out-of-state interest group is getting involved in Idaho’s 2nd District 2014 GOP primary, this one led by former middle-distance world record holder and former Republican Congressman Jim Ryun of Kansas.

The conservative Washington, D.C.-based Madison Project has endorsed first-time candidate Bryan Smith, an Idaho Falls lawyer, over eight-term Republican Congressman Mike Simpson.

The group has established a SackSimpson.com website that calls Simpson a “Nancy Pelosi Republican” and pictures Simpson with a scary visage of the House Minority Leader looking over his shoulder. Simpson’s lifetime voting rating with the American Conservative Union is 85 percent. Pelosi’s lifetime rating is 3 percent.

In 2012, the Madison Project political action committee contributed over $98,000 to Republican candidates, including winning Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Senate losers Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana. Extreme statements by Akin and Mourdock cost Republicans two seats they were widely expected to win.

The Madison Project also is targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the 2014 primary, for being insufficiently conservative.

Says the group: “Our values are Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Limited Government, Defenders of Religious Freedom. We only endorse candidates who clearly demonstrate their conservatism. We evaluate every Congressional and Senatorial race in America, and our endorsements are only extended to key competitive races which have a strong conservative candidate with the ability to win.”

Smith is the fourth GOP candidate to be endorsed by the Madison Project for 2014. The others are: Matt Bevin, Sen. McConnell’s challenger in Kentucky; Art Halvorson, a challenger to Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.; and incumbent Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma.

In its endorsement of Smith, the Madison Project’s Daniel Horowitz repeats a false claim made by Smith and Club for Growth that Simpson favored funding ACORN. Simpson voted 28 times to defund the group.

“As one of the chief appropriators in Washington, Rep. Mike Simpson has never seen a wasteful program he did not want to fund,” said Horowitz in a news release. “From funding the controversial ACORN, sex education, government-run healthcare, bailouts, and corporate welfare, Congressman Simpson has made a career out of frivolously spending taxpayer money.”

The Madison Project becomes the fifth major player expected to pump money into the race, four of them from outside Idaho. Washington-based Club for Growth started the action in July by endorsing Smith. Simpson says he’s planning for the club — which raised $1.1 million on behalf of one-term GOP Rep. Bill Sali, R-Idaho, in 2006 — to raise up to $2 million for Smith.

Also in July, a centrist GOP Super PAC, Main Street Partnership, announced support for Simpson. Former Ohio GOP Congressman Steve LaTourette said his Washington-based group would match Club for Growth “dollar for dollar.”

In August, the Washington-based American Chemistry Council ran pro-Simpson TV ads, which were recycled from 2012.

And late last month the first Idaho-based political action committee got involved, when the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry formed a federal PAC, the Gem State Prosperity Fund, to operate as the federal sister to the group’s state political action committee, the Idaho Prosperity Fund. The spark for starting the new PAC was to help Simpson, said IACI President Alex LaBeau.

Read the Madison Project's press release here.

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