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In Wyoming, Patience Is Key for Candidates

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

Anyone looking to run for Congress in Wyoming would be wise to internalize the phrase “Patience is a virtue.”

Ambitious Equality State politicians may have to wait until 2020, when Republican Sen. Michael B. Enzi might retire, to have any chance of getting elected to Congress.

Republican Sen. John Barrasso, who is up for re-election in 2018, is popular in the state, as is Republican Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis. And Enzi proved in 2014 how difficult it is to challenge an incumbent, even for a candidate with built-in name recognition.

“[Barrasso] has a ready infrastructure in the state at all times,” said Liz Brimmer, a former chief of staff to the late Republican Sen. Craig L. Thomas. “He won’t have to do so much organizing — he’s ready.”

Moreover, Wyoming Republicans see Barrasso, a former state senator appointed to his seat in 2007 after Thomas’ death, obtaining a leadership post if the GOP takes over the Senate in 2014. And they don’t think he’s going anywhere for some time.

“I think we’ll carry Sen. Barrasso out of the Senate chamber after he’s taken his last breath,” Wyoming GOP consultant Bill Cubin said. “He loves being a senator.”

The verdict is more split on whether Enzi, a 70-year-old former state senator first elected to the Senate in 1996, would want to remain in the chamber for another 12 years. Republican state Rep. Marti Halverson said Enzi “is a workhorse, and workhorses don’t like being out of the yolk.” Others aren’t so sure.

“I have a hard time seeing him running for re-election in 2020,” Cubin said. “I think this will be his last term.”

Brimmer said Lummis, a former state treasurer first elected to the House in 2008, would be “first in line” for Enzi’s seat, while noting there are other Wyoming politicians waiting in the wings.

Her favorites include: state House Majority Whip Tim Stubson, who has both “talent and patience,” the “dynamic and effective” Gov. Matt Mead and state Speaker Pro Tem Rosie Berger.

Cubin mentioned a few outside-the-box candidates, including Casper radio personality Brian Scott Gamroth; Ed Murray, a Cheyenne real estate developer who’s one of six Republican candidates this year for Wyoming secretary of State; and state legislator-turned-rancher Frank Moore. Cubin’s more conventional pick was state Treasurer Mark Gordon, who ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2008. (Cubin was a consultant for Lummis’ 2008 campaign).

Halverson would like to see someone like tea party darling and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Taylor Haynes or former state Auditor Rita Meyer, who lost the 2010 gubernatorial primary to Mead by some 700 votes, make a bid for Congress if given the opportunity.

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