On Sunday, I moderated a panel where Simpson and Minnick competed to heap praise on one another. "The people of Idaho care less about whether we're a Republican or Democrat," Simpson said. "They care more about what we do for the state and the country."
…Simpson joked that he swaps names on his bill to win wilderness protection for the Boulder-White Cloud mountains. "When I'm working with the Democrats, it's the Minnick-Simpson bill," he said.
…Both seek to boost land-management funding that Simpson said suffered during the Bush years. They share views on climate change and the deficit.
… Simpson even displayed a protective instinct for his new colleague, offering that Minnick's years on the boards of the ICL and The Wilderness Society are seen as a vulnerability.
"You have to realize that Republicans are sitting here waiting for Walt to screw up (on environmental policy)," Simpson said. "And they will jump all over him." Simpson is offering cover, saying he's interested in collaborating on a possible wilderness bill for North Idaho's Scotchman Peaks.