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Unions vs. The GOP? Not in Idaho.


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Labor unions are fighting right-wing extremism with surprising tactic: By helping fund the campaigns of moderate incumbent Republicans who face challenges from hard-line righties.  

Labor unions, many affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, recently donated $200,000 to the campaign of Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) through the Defending Main Street PAC, created by Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH). Simpson, a 16-year Congressman, is facing a major dark money challenge from Bryan Smith. Smith sports major endorsements from the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, local Tea Party chapters, and several other pillars of conservative ideology.

To national observers, such as NPR’s David Greene, the race is a midterm bellwether which will reveal whether a moderate Republican can fend off a big money candidate who aligns himself with the machine that fuels the far-right wing.  Unions are helping Simpson out because he is under attack for being “too moderate.”  In solid red Idaho, a fairly moderate Republican is the closest labor can come to having a friend.

Another major factor in the decision to support Simpson is his support of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring thousands of jobs to union workers. The Sunlight Foundation explains Simpson’s unique position:

Not only is the congressman a vocal supporter of the pipeline, but Simpson is in a position to help: A member of the House Appropriations Committee, he chairs the of powerful panel’s subcommittee on energy and water development.

The Republican primary in the Idaho 2nd Congressional district will be held on May 20th.


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