A postscript on the Simpson-Labrador feud: Just how much do these guys dislike one another?

My story Sunday about the tiff between Idaho's two Republican congressmen has prompted a number of questions to me about why Rep. Mike Simpson went nuclear on his junior colleague, Rep. Raul Labrador.

In short, I'd say that Simpson is ticked at Labrador for two reasons: attacking his good friend, Speaker John Boehner, and, in Simpson's view, undermining an institution that he loves, for all its flaws.

"I think it could be a little of both," agreed Jim Weatherby, Boise State political scientist emeritus. Weatherby noted that Simpson is a former Idaho House speaker, who understands the pressures and difficulties of the job. "He respects the office of the speaker, having been one himself."

Simpson said Labrador had forever compromised his credibility by helping lead a failed attempt to unseat Boehner and that he fundamentally misunderstands the governing responsibilities of the majority party.

Labrador and Simpson hadn't spoken, as of Friday at least. Labrador left the country on Jan. 4, the day after Boehner was re-elected speaker without his vote. Labrador was one of six members of an all-Republican House delegation led by Darrell Issa of California, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Labrador returned Sunday, having visited Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco and Spain, reviewing security at U.S. embassies.

Labrador phoned Friday from Morocco. I had shared with him a transcript of my interview with Simpson.

His first comments captured his insurgent ethic and distaste for Simpson's deal-making: "The question is what kind of credibility do congressmen need today. Is it the credibility that you’re a Washington insider who has been there for a long period of time and has actually contributed to the deficit, the debt and the problems that we have in America? If that’s the credibility somebody needs, that’s not the kind of credibility I want.

"Or is it the credibility that you have with your constituents when you make certain promises to them – that you were going to fight for them, you were going to fight for less spending, less government and you were not going to become part of the Establishment and you kept those promises? And I believe that’s the credibility that I have."

Labrador, who is beginning his third year in Congress, then called the 15-year veteran Simpson an "old-school legislator that went to Washington, D.C., to compromise."

As for Simpson's saying the rebellion would make its proponents less effective, Labrador also pushed back with self-assurance:

"With all due respect to the people who have served in this position, I think I’ve been about as effective as any congressman has been. I have been in the middle of every negotiation, I have been in the middle of every fight that we have had in Washington, D.C., and my opinion and my voice has mattered in every single one of them."

Labrador said he's not afraid he will be punished by Boehner, who he is scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon in Washington.

"I’m not, because I didn’t come here to get a title," Labrador said. "I didn’t go to Washington, D.C., to get a committee. I went to Washington, D.C. to change the way things are being done."

Labrador also took after Simpson for speaking to the press before talking to him. I asked about the interests of Idahoans -- who have just two members in the 435-member House -- who count on their delegation to get along.

"It is important, but Mike is used to being the bull in the china shop," Labrador said. "He has a tendency to be a bully with people who disagree with him. It has worked with other people, like with (former GOP Rep. Bill) Sali. It doesn’t work with me."

The circumstances of my interview with Simpson bolster my view that he sought to protect both a friend and the institution. Simpson was in the audience for last Wednesday's City Club of Boise "pundits forum," which Weatherby moderated and included me, John Miller of the AP and Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review.

Before the punditry, I went to say hello to Simpson, who was seated at the Boise State table with another former Idaho Speaker, Bruce Newcomb, a close friend.

I began by asking Simpson about speculation that he might be a compromise candidate for speaker should Boehner, R-Ohio, falter. Simpson told me he would have no interest in the job.

"What? Shoot myself?" Simpson said. "Somebody was speculating, but I like what I’m doing."

Said Simpson, "Boehner is between about a rock and a hard spot as I’ve ever seen any speaker. Because you try to do things with your majority, but he’s got about a third of our majority who are out there. And trying to get a majority to come together, it’s hard to compromise within our own conference – let alone between the Democrats."

Simpson noted that Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., supported Boehner, though he's been seen as the leading alternative to Boehner and got votes for speaker from the dissident group. "I don’t think it’s them so much as I think it’s their staffs in the past have had some conflict," Simpson said. "But I think they’re pretty much over it. And in fact, in conference in our organization session, it was Cantor that nominated Boehner."

Asked if Boehner will survive, Simpson then took on the "co-conspirators" who tried to unseat Boehner on the floor. Simpson said they'd "lost substantial credibility within the conference."

I asked if Labrador was among that group and Simpson repeated himself, without naming Labrador. Newcomb, seeking to protect his friend, called for Simpson's press secretary, Nikki Watts, who was seated a couple tables away. "We need Nikki!" Newcomb said. "We need Nikki!"

Despite the warning, Simpson plunged ahead when I asked him to describe Labrador's refusal to cast a vote, pointedly ignoring the clerk calling the roll.

His anger became sharp: "He just didn’t vote. Which, as anyone who’s ever been in a legislative body will tell you, you got one thing going for you and that’s your credibility. And once you lose that credibility it’s gone and it’s gone forever. You don’t get it back. And I think that’s happened with some people."

Is Labrador's open defiance a signal he'll be running for governor in 2014 and leaving Congress? "No," Simpson replied. "I read it as fundamentally not understanding how you govern -- what it means to be in the majority."

1358194218 A postscript on the Simpson-Labrador feud: Just how much do these guys dislike one another? Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Reality Check Raul

"I didn’t go to Washington, D.C., to get a committee. I went to Washington, D.C. to change the way things are being done."

The reality is, you have to get a title in order to "change the way things are done".

Simpson's Lack of Compromise

I disagree that Representative Labrador failed to compromise on the "fiscal cliff" bill. It was Simpson who agreed with Republicans and Democrats that accepted the President taking spending off the negotiating table.

When the "fiscal cliff" issue first arose, the assumption was that taxes and spending would be negotiated together. Then, President Obama said NO to spending cuts. House Democrats and many House Republicans agreed to the President NOT wanting to compromise. Remember, the deal was higher rates for people making $450,000 per year with no real cuts in spending.

Unfortunately, Representative Simpson followed. For his part, Representative Labrador did not. He is seeking a comprehensive and "balanced" approach -- to borrow President Obama's now broken promise.

Compromise in politics means everybody should give something. But, the President, House Democrats, and most House Republicans simply didn't want to. I don't know why Representative Simpson chose to go along with this deal, but I'm sure he felt it was the best approach.

However, that does not give him the right to claim that Representative Labrador's different approach somehow lacks "credibility." Representative Labrador led by saying no to an incomplete and damaging piece of legislation. Labrador should be commended not only for his courage, but for his concern for the greater good.

Thank you, Steve

Geez, I sure hope Labrador doesn't

break his arm patting himself on the back....Sunny...


When did the House get an extra 100 seats?

Thanks, you're right, of course, 435 House, 100 Senate

I'll fix.

Dan Popkey

Maybe they're counting two

Maybe they're counting two buns for 100 of the "arses" in the seats...?

Thank you, Rep. Labrador

Changing the way things are done will be a slow process. But, with enough members of Congress with a backbone the change will occur. Now, let's unseat Simpson!

Hissy Fits

I used to complain that popular culture had become nothing more than Reality TV airing rich bit##es throwing hissy fits, not it seems it's not just reality TV, but simply our reality. Congressman Simpson is just some silver spoon 'old money' debutante who is afraid of losing her status as the popular girl, and Labrador is the new girl in school who wants to be the prom queen.. between the two of them there's more drama than most Soap Operas. Meanwhile the citizens of Idaho have to suffer through endless reruns of idiot congressmen.

Thank Goodness our mainstream media is so tied into what's important. What's next Popkey? What color socks Labrador is wearing, or who Simpson kissed at lunch?



Labrador really needed to check the security of the US Embassy in Rabat, eh? I wonder who paid for that trip? If he truly wanted to "change" the way things are done in Washington, he would not have gone on a taxpayer funded junket to review a subject he knows absolutely nothing about.

It's an official trip, the taxpayer covered the bills

The nine-day trip was led by the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, as noted above.

Dan Popkey

Agree 100% - Trip doesn't pass the smell test.

Labrador went on a junket ostensibly on a mission about which he has little knowledge or credibility -- site security.

The lavish dinner party every night, staying at the top hotels, the dynamic "presentations" by those responsible for soft soaping the Congress members, and the side trips were worth giving up 9 days with his five kids and wife who still live in Idaho while he camps in his House office in Washington. It doesn't pass my smell test on several levels.


And according to Raul...."Or is it the credibility that you have with your constituents when you make certain promises to them – that you were going to fight for them, you were going to fight for less spending"...

Let me see if I got this straight...Raul's position is that by doing less for his constituents (most of whom could use a hand up) he is actually doing something good for them? In 7,000 years of recorded history, give me an example of where this notion has ever worked.

So you are a socialist?

Shouldn't congress' constituents being doing more for themselves? You think it's the job of Congress to give a hand up to others? At whose expense? what you advocate is the enslavement of everyone for the benefit of everyone else. Where in recorded history has that worked?


Labrador's constituents are last in wages, last in education funding, and first in cutting taxes for big business at the expense of the middle class. Do more for yourself, but it would be nice if we could get some help from those in power.....


So let me understand what you want.

It's a politician's responsibility to make sure his constituents earn more money, raise taxes to give more money to teachers and not vote for taxes that would benefit business and possibly enable a company to hire more workers that would make more money so that that workers could pay more taxes in order to pay teachers more? Those of us in the real world that work really hard don't need help from those in power. We need those in power to stop taking our money and giving it to those who never will do anything for themselves. But what I think you don't like about may be that the more independent from the government America becomes, the less likely tax & spend politicians are to get reelected.

You don't understand what I want.

1) It's a politician's responsibility work for the betterment of his constituency, not for a future run for governor. 2) Idaho is not meeting it's own constitutional obligation to fully fund public education. As usual, the typical conservative method of picking and choosing which parts of the law apply. 3) Trickle down economics have never been successful. Eliminating the personal property tax will not create one more job in Idaho. Idaho Power stockholders will get a nice bonus though. 4) I, too, live and work in the real world. It may surprise you to know that many liberals do that, and many republicans get welfare. Liberals give help to the needy. Conservatives give it to millionaires. 5) Tax and spend Clinton left us with a surplus; Borrow and spend Bush left us with the worst depression since the '30's. You need to turn off your radio, and find out what actually happens in the "real" world.

I actually totally understand what you want

1. I guess it depends on how you define betterment of his constituency, doesn't it. 2. Define fully fund and define public education. Does the obligation extend to college? Does it extend to pre-school? Does it include transportation and food? Supplies? 3. Trickle down economics has NEVER truly been attempted. Eliminating the business property tax and income tax in this state would DRAMATICALLY have a positive creation of jobs in Idaho. Consumption taxes are the next best thing to transactional taxes. ( see Texas ). 4. You keep comparing my statements to republicans. I am not republican. I'd be happy to give more to charity if I had anything left after all of the taxes I pay. The difference between liberals and conservatives is I want to decide who gets my charity and liberals want to force me to give it to what they deem important. I don't live for the collective. 5. You said before that spending bills begin in the house so I guess what you really meant to say is that the surplus was to the credit of Speaker Gingrich. I am sure he'd thank you.

Wow, talk about a lack of understanding

It's the government's job to set the rules and create a level playing field so that everyone has a chance to prosper. When they do that it's called lawmaking. What universe do you live in?


What a total waste of taxpayers money, with this group touring the embassies looking at the security, think Bengazi, the only way that Darrell and his minions could try to prove a point. Isn,t this the same Darrell Issa, that has a felony and also has been sued by his business partners in a stock scam???

"Fundamentally not understanding how you govern …"

applies to the entire TeaParty wing.

Fundamentally not understanding the constitution...

...applies to all liberals.

All generalities are false.....

Including this one. So explain, in all your fundamentalism, the meaning of "well-trained". You cons pick and choose what you like and ignore the rest. You worried about the deficit? Remember where the constitution says all bills of revenue begins in the (republican) House of Representatives? Then why blame the deficit on the President?

Mark Twain couldn't have said it any better himself...

...then he again, he did say it. But at least it's clever.

I have no idea that the reference is "well-trained". That is not a phrase I used.

But I can answer the rest of your questions.

I am VERY concerned about the deficit. You may be confusing conservative with republican, I'm afraid. The republican house has passed several budgets with deficits. That is just as wrong as a democratic budget with the same result. I am not here defending republicans. I am defending conservatism and the Constitution.

The President does offer a budget to Congress as a guideline to what he wants to sign. From what I can remember, it has yet to get an AYE. I don't blame the deficit on the President. I blame the deficit on liberals.

"Well trained"

Article #2 in the Bill of Rights. Another phrase in the constitution that conservatives like to ignore. And I blame the deficit on lobbyists. You seem to have forgotten the Clinton surplus and the Bush deficits.

I think you are confused or misinformed.

1. Article 2 refers to the Executive branch.
2. The Bill of Rights is not Article 2.
3. I think you mean well regulated which is not the same as well trained. Please correct me if I am wrong.

It's ironic, really.

"Simpson said Labrador had forever compromised his credibility by helping lead a failed attempt to unseat Boehner and that he fundamentally misunderstands the governing responsibilities of the majority party."

Boehner agreed to the fiscal cliff deal which completely screwed republicans.

Boehner agreed to raise taxes although the government has plenty of money to spend and cuts NOTHING.

Labrador voted to change that. Thankfully.

It seems Simpson's responsibility is to the majority party and NOT to the citizens of Idaho.

When our kids and grandkids are later in their lives paying the expenses of Congress today, at least Labrador will be able to say he tried to stop it. Simpson won't. It's time for Mike to go back to being a dentist; he's forgotten who he works for.

Is it really a feud, Mr. Popkey?

Labrador was part of a losing attempt to take out the Speaker. Simpson made some candid, strong comments about the impact of such a clumsy political mistep. Is that really a feud?
You seem to be fanning the flame, Mr. Popkey.

Simpson is why America is destined for mediocrity

For Simpson to go nuclear on Labrador because Labrador was trying to adhere to the promises he made when he ran for Congress and then to have the liberal wing of the republican party and democrats everywhere go on the character assassination tour of Labrador is case-in-point as to why D.C. will never be the answer for American prosperity. Who would want to get involved in politics when your constituents are expected to be prioritized AFTER the party? Idaho citizens elected Labrador to Congress. The GOP did not. Good people will not want to associate with a group of men and women that look for opportunities to destroy those they disagree with, even when those people are in the same party. We are totally hosed.


Now pipe down and finish folding your mother's unmentionables.


Apple users, run the Gig of RAM your PC needs to have and read the dumb tech white papers, wrinkle your forehead and buy more food and toilet paper with the difference. The internet is a piece of junk anyway and your cats know this.

Dance Clowns, Dance

Dance the Obamunist "FSA" dance. Until the "FS" runs out.

Do you run out?


Apple users, run the Gig of RAM your PC needs to have and read the dumb tech white papers, wrinkle your forehead and buy more food and toilet paper with the difference. The internet is a piece of junk anyway and your cats know this.

Is Labrador Don Quixote or General George Custer?

Is he as delusional as Cervantes' Don Quixote who said “Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them.” when the giants were windmills.

Or is he as rigid and vain as General Custer who ingnored warnings while overestimating his own brilliance and effectiveness. "There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat the Seventh Cavalry." -- General George Custer

My guess, it's a bit of both but heavily weighted each way.

With all due respect

Labrador is not showing himself to be due respect. Jolly phatic notwithstanding.

Simpson, you ruint me Hasenpfeffer! Pistols, 50 paces!

What a maroon!


Apple users, run the Gig of RAM your PC needs to have and read the dumb tech white papers, wrinkle your forehead and buy more food and toilet paper with the difference. The internet is a piece of junk anyway and your cats know this.