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1830 - Hectic time in Wyoming in political world

There is so much to write about concerning politics this time of year in Wyoming – where on earth do I start?

         Perhaps the biggest thing that will affect the most people is the fact that four of the five top statewide elected officials are being elected this year.

         The five people in these slots (Governor, Secretary of State, State Supt. of Public Instruction, State Auditor and State Treasurer) make up the five board positions on a great many of the decision-making bodies in the state.  The State Land and Investment Board (SLIB) is perhaps the most notable. Decisions made by members of that group of the five state elected officials affect just about every county, city and town during a four-year cycle.

         Thus, it is important for voters to check out the candidates of how they feel about their future voting trends while serving on this board. 

         A big distinction is that some candidates have strict constitutional views, which may cause them to vote nay on projects that are important to cities and towns. Up to now the SLIB board has been pretty liberal (although they will deny using such a horrible word) in their decisions in choosing to help out cities and towns with their needs.

         Although the governor’s race is getting lots of press and airtime, there are two other races that deserve a good look by voters.

Both the State Auditor and State Treasurer races have hard-working candidates crisscrossing the state and doing everything they can to get your attention.

         I am just writing about the Republican primary races because these two are contested.  We will talk about the Democrats and the governor candidates in a future column after the primary.

         State Auditor Cynthia Cloud of Cody is retiring, which opens the door for two aggressive Republican candidates who offer up different approaches to the office.

         Kristi Racines of Cheyenne is a CPA who currently works for the Wyoming Supreme Court. She brings the assumed tools necessary to a job that contains the title “auditor” in it.

         She has been pounding the pavement hard all over the state and often takes her young children with her. She has made a good impression but needs to spread her message outside of her hometown of Cheyenne.

         Her opponent is three-term State Legislator Nathan Winters of Thermopolis, who is an ordained Baptist minister.  Nathan is also working hard and often brings his wife and three kids along, to make it a family affair.

         He admits to being extremely conservative and is probably somewhat to the right of Racines. He often talks principles as part of his stump speech.

State Treasurer Mark Gordon of Kaycee is in the race for governor leaving his office open to two state senators who offer contrasting styles and different backgrounds.

Leland Christensen of Alta (west of Jackson Hole) is a former law enforcement officer and auctioneer.  It is hard to find anyone who does not like Leland.

He is looking forward to serving on the state boards and admits that he will be relying on the Treasurer’s staff to do the heavy lifting in the office if elected.

Curt Meier of Torrington offers a sober countenance, which works against him in a statewide contest.  He is well qualified for this job or any other state job. But he often comes across as dour. I have known Curt for a long time and he is as easy-going as Leland. It’s just hard to get him to crack a smile.

My advice to voters is to pay attention to these folks and then make your decision.  We are blessed to have good people running.

Watching the campaigns always causes me to bring up two things I do not like about Wyoming campaigns:

First, we should have our primary any time but August. It is a great time for parades and county fairs but not nearly as good a time as May or June. Too many people are enjoying themselves in July and August to be paying attention. No wonder our primary election vote totals are so small.

Second, is the importance that debates can play. Often a very capable candidate gets tongue-tied and comes across poorly. In reality, no state official would make a decision based on a moment’s notice in the glare of the TV cameras. So again, I would advise voters to give all the candidates a little bit of leeway when watching them trying to come up with the right answer during a moment of intense pressure. That is not how important decisions are made in the real world.