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Eight-term Congressman Mike Simpson, a Republican, is facing a tough primary challenge from the right. Tea Party Republican Bryan Smith wants to unseat Simpson.NPR host David Green and producer Arnie Seipel are following the race. The two say the Simpson-Smith primary could be a GOP bellwether nationally.“We started talking to a lot of the members of our political team about ‘where are the races that will help us tell this story?,’” Greene says. “The 2nd Congressional District in Idaho kept coming up."

Mitt Romney Hosts Campaign Events For Otter, Simpson

Mitt Romney
Screengrab from KBOI2

If there’s one place failed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney can still be effective, it’s in Idaho. The former Massachusetts governor won nearly 65 percent of Idaho votes in the 2012 presidential race.

Thursday, he’ll ask Idahoans to re-elect two-time Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. Romney hosted a high-end fundraiser for Rep. Mike Simpson in Idaho Falls Wednesday.

Andrus Center for Public Policy director David Adler says the Idaho Republican Party’s decision have Mitt Romney stump for Otter and Simpson is a very strategic one.

“Both Simpson and Otter are facing tough challenges from men who stand to the right of them politically," says Adler. "So, the Romney message is, A. Turn out to vote, it will be a close race, Mike and Butch will need your support. And B. let’s not veer into the wild right which will hurt Idaho and hurt America.”

Governor Otter is facing three Republicans in the upcoming May primary. His leading opponent is state Senator Russ Fulcher, a Tea Party-backed candidate.

Representative Mike Simpson is also facing a Tea Party candidate, Bryan Smith, a political newcomer.

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