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Simpson, Fulcher retain Idaho House seats

November 4, 2020 GMT
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FILE - In this June 29, 2020 file photo Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho listens to testimony, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Fulcher is seeking a second term in the 1st Congressional District, last held by a Democrat in 2011. (Bonnie Cash/Pool via AP,File)
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FILE - In this June 29, 2020 file photo Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho listens to testimony, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Fulcher is seeking a second term in the 1st Congressional District, last held by a Democrat in 2011. (Bonnie Cash/Pool via AP,File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson on Tuesday retained his seat in Congress.

Simpson will serve a 12th term representing the 2nd Congressional District in eastern Idaho after defeating Democrat Aaron Swisher on Tuesday.

Republicans have long dominated red-state Idaho, and Simpson turned aside his Democratic challenger. He also easily defeated challengers in the Republican primary in May.

For Swisher, an economist who describes himself as having a blue-collar background, it was his second unsuccessful attempt to unseat Simpson, having also lost in 2018.

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Simpson, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee as well as a key subcommittee involving energy, has brought millions of federal dollars to the state for the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the nation’s primary nuclear research labs.

Simpson is also known for cobbling together support among environmentalists, ranchers and local governments in 2015 to create three wilderness areas in central Idaho that combined protect some 463 square miles (1,200 square kilometers). With that support, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act passed both the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Simpson trained as a dentist and joined the family business in eastern Idaho before turning to politics.

Republican U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher has been elected to a second term by Idaho voters, a seat last held by a Democrat in 2011. Fulcher will continue to represent the 1st Congressional District in western Idaho after defeating Democrat Rudy Soto, who served nine years in the Army National Guard.

Fulcher served in the Idaho Legislature, where he was known as among the more far-right leaning members. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from Boise State University.

Fulcher for years had his eyes set on becoming governor. He narrowly lost to then-Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in the 2014 Republican primary despite winning all three of Idaho’s most populated counties — all of which are in the 1st Congressional District.

Soto, the son of a Mexican immigrant, has a platform that includes affordable health care coverage for everyone, backing environmental protections and holding corporate polluters accountable. He also promises to seek more funding for Idaho roads and schools.