Club for Growth endorses Rep. Mike Simpson's primary foe

The Club for Growth on Wednesday said it would back the primary opponent of Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) with its first endorsement of the cycle.

ADVERTISEMENT
The deep-pocketed, fiscally conservative group is supporting attorney Bryan Smith (R) in the race, putting a target on Simpson's back for 2014.

Simpson has long been attacked in his state for not being conservative enough and has faced primary challenges in the past, but none have been very well-funded. 

That's likely to change this time around. 

Smith, a Tea Party-supported candidate, raised nearly $150,000 in the first month of his campaign, and the Club often spends huge sums for its preferred candidates.

Smith is likely to target Simpson over his support of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as the "Wall Street Bailout," and his push to work across the aisle in order to reduce the deficit.

This isn't just the Club's first endorsement of the 2014 campaign: It's the first time the group has found a candidate through its website — primarymycongressman.com — rather than having the candidate approach them directly.

"It's the first crowd-sourced candidate we're aware of — it didn't come from us, it came from the people of the district. We found him through them, and we liked what we found," Club for Growth President Chris Chocola told The Hill. 

"This is the first time a candidate didn't come to us saying, 'I want to run for Congress and want your support.' This time, the people in the district came to us and said, 'We think he should run, and you should support him.' He didn't come to us through our normal channels."

Chocola promised strong support for Smith in the race and blasted Simpson's record.

"He's in one of the most Republican states and districts in the country; he has a 58 percent lifetime score on our scorecard. Someone that's going to support a fiscally conservative, pro-economic-growth agenda would do well in that district, and Simpson has not done that," he said. "You clearly could have a stronger fiscal conservative in that seat, and Bryan Smith has convinced us that he is that strong alternative."

Simpson has also sparred with other Idaho Republicans — he and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) have long had a testy relationship.