Rural Idaho is shaping up to be a key battleground for the heart and soul of the Republican Party as groups from both the right and center pour money into a congressional race.
Main Street Advocacy, a new group formed by moderate former Rep. Steve LaTourette, says it will match — dollar-for-dollar — a bid by the Club for Growth to unseat liberal Republican Rep. Mike Simpson from Idaho's 2nd congressional district.
"The days of the Club for Growth using their special-interest money to bigfoot Republican primaries and bully members of Congress are over," said LaTourette
, who served a suburban-Cleveland district from 1995-2013, when he retired.
"For every dollar the Club spends distorting the facts, we will spend a dollar setting them straight," he said.
Simpson is the first person to gain support of the new group, but, LaTourette said, it would fight the Club for Growth "in districts across the country."
The Club, headed by former Indiana Rep. Chris Chocola, is preparing to spend millions of dollars next year on its latest round of primary challenges to Republican lawmakers who it believes have violated its conservative economic principles.
It is backing
attorney Bryan Smith in a primary challenge against eight-term congressman Simpson for the seat which covers the south and east portions of Idaho.
LaTourette issued a vitriolic attack on the Club's members.
"The truth is that the Club for Growth’s board is comprised of wealthy individuals who have financially supported Democrats, advocated for the individual mandate that is central to Obamacare, own or operate businesses that have sucked up millions in earmarks, and criticize members for voting the exact same way as their own president did,” he said.
"The Club for Growth is a cancer on the Republican Party that prides itself on supporting rigid, divisive and obstructionist candidates. They are certainly entitled to support any candidate they want for any reason they want, but it would be nice if they told the voters the truth about their organization and if they won’t tell voters the truth, we will."
Club spokesman Barney Keller shot back.
"It's a joke for Mike Simpson and his allies to cry foul on outside groups supporting his conservative challenger. Sixty-four percent of Mike Simpson’s campaign contributions have come from Washington PACs, not the people of Idaho,” Keller said, according to Politico
LaTourette said early this year that Main Street Advocacy hoped to raise $10 million, which pales in comparison to the $17.9 million the Club spent on federal elections in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics
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