State Politics

Roy Moore’s defeat removes ‘that albatross around our neck,’ Idaho lawmaker says

U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks as his wife Kayla Moore looks on at the end of an election-night watch party Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala.
U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks as his wife Kayla Moore looks on at the end of an election-night watch party Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. AP

Republicans in Congress need to prove that they can govern in order to keep their majorities next year, Idaho’s senior U.S. House member suggested Wednesday in response to the party losing a much-needed Senate seat in Alabama.

In remarks to The Hill, Republican Rep. Mike Simpson also said President Donald Trump’s proclivity for creating controversy through tweets, then “(getting) mad at us because we don’t defend it” is exacerbating the situation. Simpson has been a regular critic of Trump since last year’s presidential campaign.

Said Simpson: “A lot of it still depends on what happens next year. If we get some things done, maybe [we will] improve our chances.”

The congressman did not lament GOP candidate Roy Moore’s stunning loss in Tuesday’s Alabama special election.

“The real winners are the American people and, actually, Republicans, because we don’t have that albatross around our neck,” Simpson said.

After nearly a year of controlling the House and Senate, Republicans have yet to fulfill any of their major campaign promises, though an overhaul of the tax code is progressing. Last night’s loss of a Senate seat — leaving them with just a one-seat majority — could further hamper their legislative agenda.

Simpson’s staff referred the Statesman to his remarks to The Hill when asked for reaction to Tuesday’s vote.

Here’s what the other three members of Idaho’s delegation, also Republicans, had to say about the Alabama election and going forward with a razor-thin Senate majority:

▪  “Alabama voters have chosen who they feel can best represent their state in the U.S. Senate,” said Sen. Mike Crapo. “Moving forward, I remain focused on joining my colleagues to seize the opportunity we have to deliver meaningful tax reform for Idahoans, continuing to reduce unnecessary and burdensome federal regulation, and advancing pro-growth policies to strengthen our economy.”

Crapo also said he will continue to advance “bipartisan legislation that will benefit all Americans, including our wildfire funding fix with Sen. Wyden of Oregon, and the many bills that we have advanced out of the Banking Committee with wide margins of bipartisan support.”

▪  Sen. Jim Risch had had a more critical take on the election outcome: “Roy Moore was a deeply flawed candidate. When those facts became known, myself and many others called for him to withdrawal from the race. He didn’t and he lost.”

Risch said it is time to move forward. “This will have no impact on our ability to advance our agenda of reforming the tax code, reducing regulations, and creating a better quality of life for all Americans,” he said.

▪  Rep. Raúl Labrador did not respond to the Statesman on Wednesday. But he told 670 KBOI radio: “There is some disappointment because of the seat, but I think there is a little bit of sense of relief that we do not have to deal with the headaches that were going to come with having (Moore) in office.”

Labrador said he supported his “good friend” Mo Brooks in the Alabama primary.

“He would have been a great nominee. He would not have embarrassed the state and he would have won overwhelmingly yesterday,” Labrador told KBOI.

“People of Alabama made a decision … and hopefully we can learn some lessons from it.”

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell