Little Debate About President as Deep-Red Wyoming Keeps With GOP
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Voters in Wyoming made no doubt about it: They have no problem with President Donald Trump and want Republicans to continue to represent them.
Republican Mark Gordon decisively beat Democrat Mary Throne to become governor, while Republican Sen. John Barrasso defeated Democrat Gary Trauner to win a second full term. Rep. Liz Cheney easily won a second term, beating Democrat Greg Hunter.
With unemployment low and the oil and gas industries showing renewed life, Democrats had little to run on in Wyoming. What's more, Trump's policies of less industry regulation and lower taxes are popular here — there was essentially no debate whether Trump's right for the job.
"I'm definitely a fan of the president," said Jeanne McIlquham, a Republican-leaning voter from Cheyenne who chose Barrasso over Trauner.
Stock-market returns under Trump were reason alone to vote a straight Republican ticket, said Cheyenne power plant employee Chet Burton.
Wyoming Democrats also suffered by continuing to dwindle in numbers. Heading into the election, they accounted for just 16 percent of registered voters, down from 26 percent a decade ago.
The Wyoming vote was by no means monolithic. McIlquham voted for Throne.
"I'm just kind of tired of what I call the good old boys system," McIlquham said. "It just seems like we have the same people running for office, again and again. They move up the ladder but nothing ever changes."
But in choosing Gordon over Throne, most voters showed little appetite for change. Out of more than half a dozen potential alternatives between the primary and general elections, they went with the candidate most resembling outgoing Republican Gov. Matt Mead, who is completing his second term and prohibited from seeking a third.
Gordon beat five others, including nationally known Republican mega-donor Foster Friess, to win the Republican nomination in August. Gordon got 33 percent of the vote to runner-up Friess' 26 percent in the primary.
"It was a long, arduous race, it's true, but I enjoyed every moment of it," Gordon said.
Gordon, 61, was a businessman, rancher and Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City board member before being appointed treasurer by Mead after the death of Joe Meyer 2012.
Throne, 58, served as a state representative from Cheyenne from 2007-2017, including two years as minority leader of the Wyoming House. The Democratic caucus dwindled from 19 to 9 while during her time in the 60-member chamber.
Her loss broke a three-decade pattern of the governor's office alternating between Democrats and Republicans every eight years.
The last Democrat to hold the governor's office was Dave Freudenthal, who served from 2003-2011. Republican Jim Geringer served from 1995-2003 and Democrat Mike Sullivan from 1987-1995.
Trauner ran unsuccessfully on questioning Trump's policies but got little support in his bid to become Wyoming's first Democrat in the Senate in over 40 years.
"Under President Trump we were able to cut taxes and get rid of so many of the punishing regulations that made it hard for us to use energy, and then we unleash Wyoming energy," Barrasso said, referring to recent projections for a bump in state revenue from the oil and gas industries.
"It's all good news for Wyoming. I see a confidence and optimism as I talk to people."
Trauner was the Democrats' best-funded candidate in Wyoming in decades but Barrasso still outspent him 6 to 1 and out-raised him by almost 7 to 1.