Fight for Wyoming GOP Nod Ends Tonight

Posted August 19, 2008 at 7:30am

In a classic case of insider vs. outsider, Wyoming Republicans today are voting in a primary for the open at-large House seat that features former two-term state Treasurer Cynthia Lummis and political novice Mark Gordon. Gordon, a wealthy rancher and former energy company executive, has secured endorsements from prominent business leaders and two of Wyoming’s largest newspapers, the Casper Star-Tribune and Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. The first-time candidate has spent more than $1.1 million of his own money on the campaign thus far, according to Federal Election Commission filings. But big endorsements and a fresh face failed to lift political newcomer Wil Armstrong to victory in last week’s GOP primary in Colorado’s 6th district, which was won by 10 points by Secretary of State Mike Coffman. Accordingly, Lummis could be primed to cruise to victory based on her long-standing relationship with Wyoming Republicans, who know her and are used to voting for her on a statewide ballot. “We have, I believe, an exceptional grass-roots effort, one that far exceeds any of our opponents,’” Lummis said in an interview Monday. “This race will come down to my experience as a former state legislator and two-time state treasurer, versus his fresh-face sales pitch.” Lummis has not had nearly the financial resources at her disposal as has Gordon, having raised just $432,408 for the entire campaign as of July 30. Both candidates are running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Barbara Cubin (R), who is retiring. Physician Michael Holland (R) and retired Navy officer and 2006 GOP primary candidate Bill Winney are also running, but their effect on the race remains unclear. “We feel very good heading into [Tuesday’s] election,” Gordon spokesman Renny MacKay said. “We have volunteers out around the state and they are hearing a lot of support for Mark. We also know that even down the stretch a lot of people were undecided and that is bad news for the establishment candidate.” The GOP primary winner will face Internet entrepreneur Gary Trauner. He nearly ousted Cubin in 2006 and faces no primary competition. Republicans will probably have an easier time holding the seat with Cubin off the ballot, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put Trauner on its “Red to Blue” list of top pickup opportunities.