BOISE, Idaho – Two politically experienced Democrats are hoping to oust Idaho's U.S. House Republicans on Tuesday, but both face an uphill battle.
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Longtime state Rep. Shirley Ringo of Moscow is up against two-term Congressman Raul Labrador in Idaho's 1st Congressional District. The district covers all of northern Idaho and snakes along the west side of Boise to the Nevada border.
Meanwhile, Congressman Mike Simpson is seeking a ninth term in Idaho's 2nd Congressional District against Democratic challenger Richard Stallings.
Stallings held the seat from 1985 to 1993 and lost to Simpson by an 8 percent margin in 1998, the closest an opponent has ever come to defeating Simpson.
Despite the Democratic candidates' years of experience, Idaho's House incumbents have a stronghold in their districts. The Republicans also have raised more campaign funds, giving them an advantage as Election Day nears.
Labrador is a tea party favorite whose district contains some of the state's more ultra-conservative regions.
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While Labrador unsuccessfully attempted to become the House majority leader earlier this year, a variety of polling results show him well ahead of Ringo.
Ringo has served in the Idaho statehouse since 1999 and was on the joint budget committee, arguably one of the Legislature's most powerful committees.
The two candidates clash on almost every topic. Ringo is in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, military spending cuts and raising the minimum wage. Labrador supports Idaho's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He opposes increasing the federal minimum wage and is open to cutting all parts of government spending.
Simpson remains favorable among conservative and moderate voters in the second district, a large agricultural region encompassing the eastern half of the state.
He easily overcame tea party favorite Bryan Smith in the May GOP primary election, even though Smith had the endorsement and funding of conservative group Club for Growth.
Stallings has spent the past few months campaigning that Simpson is part of a "do-nothing" Congress, most recently criticizing Simpson for opposing the federal minimum wage. Simpson has countered that raising the wage would hurt businesses and cut jobs.