Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

In Wyoming, Patience Is Key for Candidates

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
From left, Enzi, Barrasso and Lummis.

One of the most intriguing questions in Wyoming politics is if Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has a future there. Before dropping out in January, Cheney’s primary challenge to Enzi puzzled many in the state because of Enzi’s unquestioned popularity and the fact that Cheney had only recently moved to the state from Virginia.

State Republicans expect her to run for office in the coming years, but they also have some pointed advice for her.

“If she stays in Wyoming, her prospects are unlimited,” Halverson said. “She made favorable impressions, and people would be perfectly willing to give her another chance on the condition that she stays in Wyoming and makes it her home.”

Cubin had an opposing view. “She has done real damage to herself in the last run,” he said. “If she truly moves back to Wyoming and gets involved in the Wyoming community ... then she could be a viable candidate. But as it stands today, no way — she’s done nothing for this state and wanted voters to make her senator for it.”

Wyoming Democrats are also trying to build their bench, though doing so is easier said than done.

“It’s a difficult conversation to have with Democrats because it is such a one-party state in Wyoming,” said Robin Van Ausdall, executive director of the Wyoming Democratic Party. “There are some people, if they started to really raise money, they could be competitive.”

Van Ausdall named businessman Gary Trauner, who nearly upset then-Rep. Barbara Cubin in 2006, as “someone who has potential.” She also mentioned state Senate Minority Floor Leader Chris Rothfuss and state House Minority Floor Leader Mary Throne as “really well received, effective state legislators.”

Former Wyoming Secretary of State Kathy Karpan spoke highly of Pete Gosar, the current chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party. Gosar is a former pilot, University of Wyoming football player and brother to Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.

“He’s trying to rebuild the party from the grass roots up and has a young, gung-ho staff,” Karpan said.

Karpan also holds in high regard geologist and rancher Gary Collins, who since 2007 has been the Northern Arapaho Tribal Liaison to the governor. “I have met Gary and have for one urged him to run for the U.S. House seat,” Karpan said.

Karpan, who lost to Enzi in the 1996 Senate race, echoed Van Ausdall’s views on the Democrats’ prospects in Wyoming. “Wyoming would vote for a Democrat, but it has to be a Democrat who’s built a following and established credentials,” she said. “You never know — hope springs eternal.”

Farm Team examines the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress. This was the year’s final installment.

The story originally misstated the year Rita Meyer lost to Matt Mead in a gubernatorial primary. It was 2010.

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