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Could Mike Simpson Be Added to a Very, Very Short List?

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Only four incumbent Idaho U.S. Representatives in state history have failed to win their party's nomination and just 1 of 82 since 1918

mikesimpson10.jpgWhen the Club for Growth announced last week that it would back a primary challenger to eight-term Idaho Republican U.S. Representative Mike Simpson, it was another sign that the war within the Republican Party is far from over.

The Club is instead endorsing attorney and tea-party GOP candidate Bryan Smith, who will position himself from the right of the long-serving member from the Gem State's reliably Republican 2nd Congressional District.

The organization and Smith have stated that Simpson is not conservative enough for the district and point to his support of TARP as an example.

However, Simpson, considered a loyal ally of Speaker John Boehner, will assuredly have the backing of the House establishment in his bid for a ninth term next year.

Plus, while primary challenges to U.S. Representatives are not uncommon in Idaho, successful primary challenges are quite rare.

And just how rare?

A Smart Politics analysis of Idaho election data finds that 96 percent of incumbent U.S. Representatives running for reelection in the Gem State have won their party's nomination including 99 percent (81 of 82) since 1918.

Across the 61 election cycles since the state's first incumbent House member, Republican Willis Sweet, there have been 111 incumbent Idaho U.S. Representatives.

A total of 92 of these sought their party's nomination for another term with 88 successfully doing so, or 96 percent.

Another 18 incumbents did not run for reelection (most of whom sought higher political office) and one died in office, Democrat Thomas Coffin in 1934.

The first incumbent from Idaho to lose his party's nod was Republican Burton French in 1908.

French was in his third term as the state's at-large representative when Thomas Hamer (former associate justice of the supreme court of the Philippine Islands, and Military Governor of the island of Cebu) won the GOP nomination.

Hamer would serve only one term before French returned the favor in 1910 - winning back the Republican nomination over Hamer and then the general election that cycle.

For three cycles beginning in 1912, Idahoans elected two at-large representatives with two members from each party receiving nominations.

French and Republican Addison Smith won these seats in 1912 but French did not seek reelection in 1914, instead running for (and losing) the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Smith and Republican Robert McCracken won the at-large seats that cycle but in 1916 the party nominated Smith and French once again with McCracken the third Idaho U.S. Representative to seek and lose his party's nomination.

It would be 58 years before the fourth (and last) Idaho U.S. House member failed in his or her renomination bid.

In 1974, Orval Hansen was narrowly defeated in the 2nd CD GOP primary by former two-term representative George Hansen.

George Hansen had won the seat during the Elections of 1966 and 1968 before opting to run (unsuccessfully) for the U.S. Senate in 1970.

Orval Hansen won the next two terms in 1970 and 1972 before the showdown with his namesake in 1974.

George Hansen would go on to win the 1974 general election and serve five more terms.

Orval Hansen's primary defeat is the only time a House incumbent from either party lost their renomination bid since 1918, or a success rate of 99 percent (81 out of 82 attempts).

Congressional Exits

Besides the four U.S. Representatives mentioned above who lost their party's nomination (and Rep. Coffin who died in office), how have the other Idaho congressmen and congresswomen exited the nation's lower legislative chamber?

A total of 18 Idaho U.S. Representatives eventually opted not to run for reelection, including 12 who ran for the Senate that cycle, one who ran for governor, and one who ran state Supreme Court justice:

· 1894: Willis Sweet, Republican (at-large).
· 1896: Edgar Wilson, Republican (at-large): unsuccessful candidate for Idaho Supreme Court justice.
· 1900: Edgar Wilson, Silver Republican (at-large).
· 1902: Thomas Glenn, Populist (at-large).
· 1914: Burton French, Republican (at-large): unsuccessful candidate for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.
· 1938: David Clark, Democrat (2nd CD): elected to the U.S. Senate.
· 1946: Henry Dworshak, Republican (2nd CD): elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election.
· 1950: Compton White, Sr., Democrat (1st CD): unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination.
· 1950: John Sanborn, Republican (2nd CD): unsuccessful candidate for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.
· 1962: Gracie Pfost, Democrat (1st CD): unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate special election.
· 1968: George Hansen, Republican (2nd CD): unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate.
· 1972: James McClure, Republican (1st CD): elected to the U.S. Senate.
· 1980: Steven Symms, Republican (1st CD): elected to the U.S. Senate.
· 1990: Larry Craig, Republican (1st CD): elected to the U.S. Senate.
· 1992: Richard Stallings, Democrat (2nd CD): unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate.
· 1998: Mike Crapo, Republican (2nd CD): elected to the U.S. Senate.
· 2000: Helen Chenowith, Republican (1st CD).
· 2006: Butch Otter, Republican (1st CD): elected governor.

These 18 representatives served an average of 2.7 terms before the end of their tenure.

Another 13 U.S. Representatives exited the House by losing in the general election:

· 1898: James Gunn, Populist (at-large)
· 1932: Burton French, Republican (1st CD)
· 1932: Addison Smith, Republican (2nd CD)
· 1946: Compton White, Sr., Democrat (1st CD)
· 1948: Abe Goff, Republican (1st CD)
· 1952: John Wood, Republican (1st CD)
· 1960: Hamer Budge, Republican (2nd CD)
· 1964: Ralph Harding, Democrat (2nd CD)
· 1966: Compton White, Jr., Democrat (1st CD)
· 1984: George Hansen, Republican (2nd CD)
· 1994: Larry LaRocco, Democrat (1st CD)
· 2008: Bill Sali, Republican (1st CD)
· 2010: Walt Minnick, Democrat (1st CD)

These 13 members of the House served an average of 3.5 terms before their general election defeat.

At the end of the Q2 2013, Simpson had $334K cash on hand for his reelection campaign while the Club for Growth-backed Smith had $132K (including $50K of his own money).

Renomination History of Incumbent Idaho U.S. Representatives Since Statehood

Year
Incumbent (AL/1st)
Renominated?
Incumbent (AL/2nd)
Renominated?
1892
Willis Sweet (R)
Yes
 
 
1894
Willis Sweet (R)
Did not run
 
 
1896
Edgar Wilson (R)
Did not run
 
 
1898
James Gunn (P)
Yes
 
 
1900
Edgar Wilson (SR)
Did not run
 
 
1902
Thomas Glenn (P)
Did not run
 
 
1904
Burton French (R)
Yes
 
 
1906
Burton French (R)
Yes
 
 
1908
Burton French (R)
No
 
 
1910
Thomas Hamer (R)
No
 
 
1912
Burton French (R)
Yes
 
 
1914
Burton French (R)
Did not run
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1916
Robert McCracken (R)
No
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1918
Burton French (R)
Yes
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1920
Burton French (R)
Yes
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1922
Burton French (R)
Yes
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1924
Burton French (R)
Yes
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1926
Burton French (R)
Yes
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1928
Burton French (R)
Yes
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1930
Burton French (R)
Yes
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1932
Burton French (R)
Yes
Addison Smith (R)
Yes
1934
Compton White, Sr. (D)
Yes
Thomas Coffin (D)
Died
1936
Compton White, Sr. (D)
Yes
D. Worth Clark (D)
Yes
1938
Compton White, Sr. (D)
Yes
D. Worth Clark (D)
Did not run
1940
Compton White, Sr. (D)
Yes
Henry Dworshak (R)
Yes
1942
Compton White, Sr. (D)
Yes
Henry Dworshak (R)
Yes
1944
Compton White, Sr. (D)
Yes
Henry Dworshak (R)
Yes
1946
Compton White, Sr. (D)
Yes
Henry Dworshak (R)
Did not run
1948
Abe Goff (R)
Yes
John Sanborn (R)
Yes
1950
Compton White, Sr. (D)
Did not run
John Sanborn (R)
Did not run
1952
John Wood (R)
Yes
Hamer Budge (R)
Yes
1954
Gracie Pfost (D)
Yes
Hamer Budge (R)
Yes
1956
Gracie Pfost (D)
Yes
Hamer Budge (R)
Yes
1958
Gracie Pfost (D)
Yes
Hamer Budge (R)
Yes
1960
Gracie Pfost (D)
Yes
Hamer Budge (R)
Yes
1962
Gracie Pfost (D)
Did not run
Ralph Harding (D)
Yes
1964
Compton White, Jr. (D)
Yes
Ralph Harding (D)
Yes
1966
Compton White, Jr. (D)
Yes
George Hansen (R)
Yes
1968
James McClure (R)
Yes
George Hansen (R)
Did not run
1970
James McClure (R)
Yes
Orval Hansen (R)
Yes
1972
James McClure (R)
Did not run
Orval Hansen (R)
Yes
1974
Steven Symms (R)
Yes
Orval Hansen (R)
No
1976
Steven Symms (R)
Yes
George Hansen (R)
Yes
1978
Steven Symms (R)
Yes
George Hansen (R)
Yes
1980
Steven Symms (R)
Did not run
George Hansen (R)
Yes
1982
Larry Craig (R)
Yes
George Hansen (R)
Yes
1984
Larry Craig (R)
Yes
George Hansen (R)
Yes
1986
Larry Craig (R)
Yes
Richard Stallings (D)
Yes
1988
Larry Craig (R)
Yes
Richard Stallings (D)
Yes
1990
Larry Craig (R)
Did not run
Richard Stallings (D)
Yes
1992
Larry LaRocco (D)
Yes
Richard Stallings (D)
Did not run
1994
Larry LaRocco (D)
Yes
Mike Crapo (R)
Yes
1996
Helen Chenoweth (R)
Yes
Mike Crapo (R)
Yes
1998
Helen Chenoweth (R)
Yes
Mike Crapo (R)
Did not run
2000
Helen Chenoweth (R)
Did not run
Mike Simpson (R)
Yes
2002
Butch Otter (R)
Yes
Mike Simpson (R)
Yes
2004
Butch Otter (R)
Yes
Mike Simpson (R)
Yes
2006
Butch Otter (R)
Did not run
Mike Simpson (R)
Yes
2008
Bill Sali (R)
Yes
Mike Simpson (R)
Yes
2010
Walt Minnick (D)
Yes
Mike Simpson (R)
Yes
2012
Raul Labrador (R)
Yes
Mike Simpson (R)
Yes
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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