Chick Heileson said that he has no issues with U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson personally. In an interview with IdahoReporter.com, Heileson said that he thinks that Simpson is a likable guy with who he has been friends for years. However, Heileson believes that Simpson has failed to vote along the lines of the U.S. Constitution during much of his time in Congress, and said that is why he is trying to unseat Simpson in the May 25 Republican primary election.
Heileson, of Iona, is running in a four-way Republican primary to challenge Simpson in Idaho's 2nd Congressional District. When asked why he decided to run, he said the idea came from his wife, who suggested it after listening to him complain about elected officials for years. Heileson said that he has been frequently dissatisfied with elected officials in his area, especially Simpson, who has served as the congressman for the eastern region of the state since being elected in 1998. After exploring his possibilities and conferring with friends, Heileson decided to challenge the incumbent because of his voting record. "If he voted with the Constitution 85 percent of the time, I would have left him alone," said Heileson, who estimates that Simpson has only voted along the lines of the Constitution at a rate of 55 percent, though he admitted that he doesn't have the evidence to prove that statistic.
So which of Simpson's votes does Heileson disagree with? He said that both the congressman's votes for the Temporary Asset Program (TARP) in 2008 and his vote to provide funding for the Cash for Clunkers program in 2009 were unconstitutional. Simpson did not vote for the initial authorization for the Cash for Clunkers program, but did vote to support a subsequent bill giving $2 billion more to the program after it ran out of funding in less than a week.
More than looking to be a member of Congress who votes against what he calls excessive federal spending, Heileson is looking to become a representative who cuts all programs that aren’t written in the Constitution from the federal budget. He said that the only way for the feds to survive is to freeze spending on programs like Medicare and Social Security before eliminating those agencies. "You've got to draw the line somewhere and tell people we are not going to pay out anymore," he said. Heileson said that an immediate plan for how to cut social programs’ funding is a difficult task and even admits that he doesn't have all the answers. He does feel, however, that if Congress would work together, lawmakers could devise an acceptable exit strategy.
He also commented on recent federal health care reforms, saying that the federal government has no business regulating the health care industry because that job description for Congress is not found in the Constitution. Heileson said cumbersome regulations enacted by federal lawmakers have led to increases in health care prices and that the government should allow competition in the medical marketplace, which would help bring prices down. Additionally, Heileson said the federal government is wrong for trying to guarantee health care for all and make it a right for the masses. "Immigrants who came to Ellis Island didn’t ask for health care," said Heileson. "Rather, they came here for the opportunity."
There have been rumblings that President Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress might try to tackle immigration reform before the year's end. Heileson, like all other Republican candidates in the race, is staunchly opposed to amnesty. "When something’s illegal, what do you do?" asked Heileson. "If it’s not going to be illegal, just open our borders to everyone." He said that federal lawmakers need to focus on closing America's borders and instituting a program that would allow more temporary workers to come to the states to work legally.
One of Heileson’s fellow challengers trying to unseat Simpson is state Rep. Russ Mathews, R-Idaho Falls. Mathews told IdahoReporter.com he feels Heileson, who has never served in any legislature, is too inexperienced to be effective. Heileson fired back and said that the job isn't as complex as Mathews makes it out to be. He said that learning the legislative procedure isn't that tough, and for everything else he needs to know he already has a guide. "If you know the rule book, which is the Constitution, that’s the most important thing," said Heileson. "I've studied that for 30 or 40 years."
Heileson, like Mathews, endorsed state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, who is battling with Vaughn Ward, a Marine Corps reservist, for the right to face Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick for Idaho's 1st Congressional district in November. He said that he isn't too familiar with Ward or Labrador, but called Ward an "establishment guy" who, he said, "aligns himself with Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) more than anyone else." Voters will decide both races on May 25.
(Note: Both Simpson and Mathews have given IdahoReporter.com their takes on the issues they believe will be crucial in the May 25 primary election. Read Simpson’s interview here, and Mathews' interview here.)