Opinion: Mike Simpson, this debate is for you

As November approaches, Idaho finds itself in the heart of the political season. The political debate is the bedrock of our two-party political system. Voters are looking and listening, trying to understand who is best to serve as we march forward in these challenging and fast-paced times. Voters should pay attention to which incumbent candidates are willing to be accountable for their actions and which are not.

Mike Simpson has declined to debate candidate Wendy Norman in the Idaho 2nd Congressional District race. The most recent decline is the second time within 12 months that Mike has refused to answer questions from the Idaho public on his voting and provide insight into his plans for the office that impacts a large part of Idaho’s agriculture community. Of course, Mike Simpson would say that he supports Idaho’s farming or our local Idaho National Laboratory, but his voting says otherwise.

Mike no longer supports our local INL, voting against the Inflation Reduction act that will bring additional funding and tax credits to the nuclear industry. However, he will take credit for growth with the recent addition of a 5G test range at INL. Mike Simpson also voted against the Chips Act, which will allow for the expansion of Micron, likely making it the largest employer in Idaho. Lastly, don’t forget early August when Rep. Mike Simpson decided to vote against our veterans and expand their medical care. Did you know that over 9% of Idahoans are veterans?

Mike Simpson is a well-tenured member of Congress, holding a seat as a ranking member of the Appropriations Committee. Remember that saying, “When they show you who they are, don’t forget it.” His recent actions do not show that this benefits Idahoans at all. In the past 2022 session, Mike Simpson proposed 15 funding requests for Idaho and then voted against all of them.

Remember when Mike Simpson spoke out against Donald Trump in 2016, stating he was unfit for office after the sexual assault claims? In 2020 Mike Simpson lauded Trump for signing his act to preserve public lands. By 2022 Rep. Mike Simpson was ending speeches by shouting, “Let’s go Brandon,” a derogatory term aimed at elected President Joe Biden. One has to ask — is Mike Simpson following or leading?

The real question is whether Mike refuses to debate because of arrogance or fear. The arrogance of relying on his GOP affiliation in a far-right leaning state, assuming no possibility of being elected out. The other assumption is fear, afraid to answer for voting against Idaho and losing his way as a statesman and leader.

A lot has changed in the political landscape over the past few years. Now more than ever, Idahoans should expect our political candidates to stand up and speak about how they will represent our state and, even more, our incumbents should be accountable.

Now is the time to write or call Rep. Mike Simpson and let him know we expect to hear from him and debate candidate Wendy Norman.

Dan Barker is a leadership development consultant and the vice chair of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.