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Republican Readies Primary Challenge to Boehner Ally (Video)

The candidate:  Attorney Bryan Smith, a Republican
The member: Smith is challenging Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.
The district: Idaho’s 2nd District is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/CQ Roll Call. The district incorporates Boise but also includes much of the Gem State’s potato production.
The candidate’s team: Cold Spark Media’s Nachama Soloveichik and Mark Harris (general consultants) and Carrie Brown (campaign manager)

Attorney Bryan Smith earned the Club for Growth’s first major endorsement of the 2014 cycle, but he said he made the decision to challenge one of Speaker John A. Boehner’s top allies in Congress independently of the cash-flush, conservative group.

“People that I know apparently had submitted my name and then I did get a call from the Club for Growth,” Smith said in a Monday interview at the CQ Roll Call offices. “I did go back and interview with them. But I made the decision independent from the Club for Growth.”

“I only met with them one time,” he added. “I never talked to [Club for Growth President] Chris Chocola in person. He wasn’t at the meeting.”

Smith is challenging eight-term Republican Rep. Mike Simpson for Idaho’s 2nd District. He got the Club for Growth’s attention after the group launched a campaign against several Republican incumbents, including Simpson, called “Primary My Congressman.”

But Smith traced his motivation for running back to a 2010 town hall with Simpson. In Smith’s view, Simpson did not adequately explain his vote for the 2008 bank bailout. He went on to repeatedly criticize Simpson’s fiscal record.

Boehner has already indicated that he will go to great lengths to help his friend. He’s scheduled to headline an Aug. 26 fundraiser in Boise for Simpson, per the Idaho Statesman.

So if Smith makes it to Congress, would he back Boehner in a leadership race?

“We’re talking about an event that would take place in 2015,” he said. “I can tell you that I would put my support behind somebody who was the most conservative person that would represent the conservative values of the good people of Idaho’s 2nd congressional district.”

Smith also said he has not met with any current members of Congress about his campaign, including Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, a favorite of national conservatives.

“No members of Congress have ever encouraged me to run, and I have not met with anybody from Congress about my campaign,” he said.

This series questions the scores of congressional hopefuls who visit the CQ Roll Call offices each cycle. Responses and questions in the video have been edited and condensed. Have a question for a candidate? Follow us at @RollCallPols to learn about upcoming interviews.

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