Several Republican candidates, including Iraq War veteran Vaughn Ward, State RepresentativesRaúl Labrador and Ken Roberts, and physician Allan Salzberg, ran for the Republican nomination to challenge Minnick. Roberts eventually dropped out, as did Salzberg; both former candidates endorsed Labrador. Vaughn Ward's campaign received coverage from as far away as Great Britain as Sarah Palin came to Idaho endorse Ward, who was one of the National Republican Congressional Committee's Young Guns. Critics seized on various troubles with the campaign, including multiple instances of plagiarism, Ward's failure to vote in the 2008 presidential elections and his referral to Puerto Rico as a "country." Ultimately, despite the fact that many prominent conservatives had lined up behind Ward, Labrador triumphed in a contentious primary election.
A contentious general election ensued, with both Minnick and Labrador launching aggressive campaign ads against each other. When Labrador accused the Congressman of supporting a middle class tax increase in a television ad, controversy quickly ensued; Idaho Public Television threatened to pull the ad for its inaccuracy and critics accused Labrador of taking Minnick's remarks out of context. When Minnick aired an ad, Labrador attacked it for including pictures that made him "look like an illegal immigrant."  Minnick strongly stressed his independent credentials; his claims were seemingly validated when the Tea Party Express, the largest group affiliated with the broader movement, endorsed his campaign for re-election. Going into election night, polling indicated Minnick with a lead over Labrador, but after the votes were tallied, Labrador defeated Minnick by a solid margin in a surprising upset.
This conservative district, based in eastern Idaho and the Magic Valley region of Idaho, has been represented by incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Simpson since he was first elected in 1998. Simpson did not face a serious challenge in his bid for a seventh term from Democratic candidate Mike Crawford or independent candidate Brian Schad and was re-elected by a large margin on election day.