As Rep. Mike Simpson braces for a tough re-election battle, he has some allies most members of Congress can't claim: dentists. Simpson is one of just two dentists in Congress; he even continued to practice in Idaho while serving in the Statehouse. This year he's trying to fend off a Tea Party challenge—the Club for Growth says the Republican has an "atrocious liberal record" and is helping his opponent, who has already raised more than $525,000—and that's where the dental lobby, which the National Journal calls "influential," comes in.
The lobby is expected to put a lot of effort—and money—into protecting Simpson, a 15-year congressional veteran; it has already spent $22,000 on mailers and $20,000 on voter research by phone. "We'll try to raise as much as we can for him," says a VP at the American Dental Association. The organization raised $265,000 from 600 dentists to elect Rep. Paul Gosar, Congress' other dentist, in 2010. When Gosar was challenged by the Tea Party in 2012, the association and dentists dumped $360,000 into his race. And Simpson is well-placed on Capitol Hill, with enough power to help the lobby in the future; he's been known to co-sponsor bills supported by the association as well as stall bills opposed by it.