Simpson wins 11th term in House; Fulcher wins 1st District

November 7, 2018

Former Idaho state Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, speaks at the GOP Election Night Party in Boise, Idaho, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Republican Congressman Mike Simpson has won an 11th term representing Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District.

And the GOP’s Russ Fulcher on Tuesday won Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, defeating Democrat Cristina McNeil and six other candidates.

“I want to just promise you, fellow Republicans: Please know that I, that we, take this very very seriously,” Fulcher said in a victory speech. “Your Republicans will stand for the foundation of constitutional principles, and we will work together with honor to represent you and Idaho, both locally and on a worldwide stage.”

Simpson defeated Democratic challenger Aaron Swisher, a Boise economist, to retain the seat. Simpson currently sits on the powerful House appropriations committee and is the chairman for the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, and he’s voted multiple times in opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

“Idaho will be incredibly well served by the team of Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher in the U.S. House,” said Idaho Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Parker. “They are champions for the people of Idaho, and they’ll always stand up for Idaho values in our nation’s capital.”

During his campaign, Simpson said he opposes amnesty programs for immigrants who are in the United States illegally. He also promised to promote the expansion of nuclear energy for the nation’s energy needs, but said the country still will need traditional energy sources including coal.

Swisher said he was running to create a livable minimum wage and end tax loopholes for wealthy CEOs.

The wins by Fulcher and Simpson mean Idaho’s Congressional delegation will remain entirely Republican, as it has been for the last several years.

Fulcher grew up on a dairy farm in Meridian and spent several years working in the tech industry, for Micron and Preco Electronics. A staunch conservative, Fulcher has said he opposes Medicaid expansion because vulnerable Idaho residents need to “get a sense of the ownership and obligation that comes with personal responsibility.”

Still, he said the current health care system needs improvement, and advocated changes including increased charity care and broader access to tax-free savings accounts that people could use to cover future medical expenses.

McNeil grew up in Mexico City, where her uncle Pedro Vazquez Colmenares was then the governor of the state of Oaxaca. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1995, and currently is a real estate agent with her own brokerage in Boise. She also volunteers with several other organizations including the Alliance for Justice and the Coalition for Immigrant Rights of Idaho.

During her campaign McNeil said she supports Medicaid expansion and said Congress must work to increase competition in prescription drug pricing. She also promoted increased wages for Idaho school teachers, said she supports legalizing marijuana and promised to work to fund comprehensive improvements and maintenance for Idaho’s infrastructure, including public roads and drinking water delivery systems.

The two were the front-runners in a crowded field which had six other people also vying for the seat. W. Scott Howard, a Libertarian from Post Falls, and a Letha man who legally changed his name from Marvin Richardson to Pro-Life several years ago were joined by four Independent candidates on the ballot: Gordon Counsil of Caldwell, Paul Farmer of Meridian, Natalie Fleming of Fruitland and write-in candidate Michael J. Rath of Saint Maries.

Fulcher replaces current GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, who opted to run for Idaho governor rather than seek re-election. Labrador lost in the primary.

The race for the 2nd Congressional District was quieter. Simpson has easily won every general election since 1998, with margins frequently topping 60 percent, and this race was expected by many to be no different.

Simpson has been somewhat mixed in opinion when it comes to President Donald Trump, calling him “unfit to lead” when Trump was campaigning for office and sometimes criticizing particularly inflammatory tweets, calling the president’s actions a distraction. Still, he recently said he’s been “pleasantly surprised” by the president’s record to date, particularly on the economy.

Simpson has been a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act and says he opposes amnesty programs for immigrants who are in the United States illegally. He’s also promised to promote the expansion of nuclear energy for the nation’s energy needs, but said the country still will need traditional energy sources including coal, hydropower and natural gas.

Swisher, a Boise resident and economist who worked at Clarivate Analytics before leaving to focus on his campaign full time, has written two books on the nation’s economy and how current policies affect American families. He focused his campaign on creating “a better deal for working-class Americans,” saying anyone with a full-time job should be able to support themselves and meet basic needs — and promoting higher minimum wages to reach that goal. He also said he would push to protect and maintain public lands, work to prevent the damage of climate change and promote universal, single-payer health care.

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