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Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson wins Republican nomination in re-election campaign

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Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson wins Republican nomination in re-election campaign

May 22, 2024 | 12:42 am ET
By Kyle Pfannenstiel
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Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson wins Republican nomination in re-election campaign
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Bonneville County residents take part in the voting process during the May 21, 2024, primary election at The Waterfront Event Center in Idaho Falls. (Pat Sutphin for the Idaho Capital Sun)

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson secured the Republican Party nomination for Idaho’s congressional district serving south central Idaho, eastern Idaho and most of Boise in his bid for a 14th term.

The Associated Press declared Simpson the winner of the Idaho GOP primary for Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District at 10:07 p.m. Tuesday.

Mike Simpson
Mike Simpson was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999. (Courtesy of Congressman Mike Simpson’s office)

Simpson had 54% of the votes over two Republican challengers, according to unofficial election results from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office. Scott Cleveland, a financial adviser in Eagle and Ada County Republican Party third vice chair, has earned 35.8% of the votes, while 9.5% of votes were for Sean Higgins in Boise, who works in information technology.

Simpson received over 53,000 votes, according to the unofficial results reported by the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office at 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Tuesday’s primary election results won’t become official until the State Board of Canvassers certifies the election results. The canvass is scheduled to occur at 11:15 a.m. June 5 at the Mountain America Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane said.

Simpson, 73, has represented Idaho in Congress since 1999 for 13 terms. U.S. House of Representatives terms are two years. 

“The first thing you do is listen to your bosses. And the bosses are the voters of the 2nd Congressional District, or all your constituents in the 2nd Congressional District,” Simpson told the Idaho Capital Sun in a phone interview Tuesday night.

Sometimes, he said, that means explaining votes to constituents, asking them for advice or having them inform him about how congressional action impacts their business and families.

If Simpson is re-elected to Congress, his top priorities are agriculture reform, security for the southern border and Idaho National Laboratory’s continued growth, he told the Sun.

In the November general election, Simpson is set to face Democrat David Roth, Libertarian Todd Corsetti and the winner of the Idaho Constitution Party primary. Party candidate Idaho Law – Carta Sierra won the Idaho Constitution Party primary with 51% of votes, or 102 total votes, over Pro-Life, a person formerly known as Marvin Richardson, who received 49% of votes, or 98 votes, according to unofficial Idaho election results.

In Idaho, Republican primary elections often decide major elections. Idaho voters last elected a Democrat to statewide office in 2002. Since 1992, Republicans have held a supermajority in both chambers of the Idaho Legislature. 

U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher, 62, did not face a Republican primary challenger this year in his re-election campaign to represent Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, which spans southwestern and North Idaho. Democrat Kaylee Peterson, Libertarian Matt Loesby and Constitution Party candidate Brendan J. Gomez have filed as candidates for Fulcher’s seat. They’re all set to face off in the November general election.

In 2022, Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo won a fifth term after receiving 59% of votes, defeating Roth and Cleveland, who ran as an independent.

Where is Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District?

Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District — which U.S. Rep Mike Simpson represents — splits Ada County and includes most of Boise, as well as the entire counties of Lemhi, Custer, Elmore, Camas, Blaine, Lincoln, Gooding, Jerome, Minidoka, Twin Falls, Cassia, Butte, Clark, Fremont, Jefferson, Madison, Teton, Bonneville, Bingham, Power, Bannock, Caribou, Oneida, Franklin and Bear Lake.

Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District is home to roughly 954,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Simpson endorsed by Trump in congressional race

Simpson chairs the House Interior and Environment Subcommittee on Appropriations. He also serves on the House Energy and Water Development Subcommittee and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee on Appropriations.

“One of the most important things is trying to get the ag immigration reform bill … that we’ve worked on for the last couple of terms. And it’s an important bill to agriculture in Idaho and agriculture across the country,” Simpson told the Sun.

Simpson, who has criticized President Joe Biden’s border policies, also said securing the southern border is important across the U.S.

“I can’t believe it’s as hard to get anything done in that respect as it is,” Simpson said. “But, we can’t have 13 million people, undocumented people, coming across the border every four years and expect to have a country still.”

Simpson has touted securing funding for Idaho National Laboratory, a nuclear research lab in eastern Idaho that employed more than 6,000 people last year and is one of Idaho’s largest employers.

In October 2023, Idaho’s congressional delegation introduced legislation to block the Lava Ridge Wind Farm, a proposal to place up to 400 turbines in south central Idaho, the Idaho Capital Sun previously reported. Simpson said in a news release in March a federal spending bill Congress passed blocked “the out-of-touch” project “until the Secretary of Interior consults with local elected officials and stakeholders and reports back to Congress,” Boise State Public Radio reported.

Simpson’s 2021 salmon recovery plan to breach four lower Snake River hydroelectric dams has faced opposition from Idaho Republican elected officials.

Simpson has been a dissenting vote in Idaho’s congressional delegation on major issues in recent years, including to suspend the federal government’s debt ceiling limit in 2023 and being among 35 Republicans who joined Democrats to approve legislation in 2021 to establish a commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6, when protestors stormed the U.S. Capitol building. 

Simpson has endorsed former U.S. president Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election. Trump endorsed Simpson in a Sunday post on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform. Simpson wrote in a post on X that he “will work with President Trump to stop the flood of illegal immigration at our border and curb the crippling inflation from Biden’s failed economic policies.”