Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Monday, June 11, 2007

Democrats in Wyoming

  • Wyoming: While Wyoming is one of the last states to come to mind when discussing Blue America, it is not impossible for a Democrat to win statewide there.

    In 2006, Dave Freudenthal won re-election to the Governor's office with 70% of the vote and enjoys an approval rating approaching 80%. Also in 2006, businessman Gary Trauner came within about 1,000 votes of unseating at-large GOP Rep. Barbara Cubin.

    As such, when considering potential Senate candidates in Wyoming, Freudenthal and Trauner are the top two names that spring to mind. However, while not ruling out a bid, Freudenthal has shown little interest. Also, indications suggest that Trauner is more likely to opt for a rematch against Cubin for the at-large House seat than aim for a Senate bid. Certainly, this could change with the second Wyoming seat up in 2008 to be held by a placeholder as a result of the passing of Senator Craig Thomas.

    But, much to my surprise, there are more than two Democrats in Wyoming. The Hill reports:

    Former House candidate Gary Trauner, state Sen. Mike Massie and former gubernatorial candidate Paul Hickey are talking with fellow Democrats about the seat, which became open when Sen. Craig Thomas (R) died last week.

    Massie, a 12-year member of the state legislature and minority caucus chairman from Laramie, Friday told The Hill that while discussions are preliminary, the opportunity appears to be as good as it has been in years. ...

    Hickey is an attorney who took 37 percent of the vote in a 2002 primary against Freudenthal. His father, Joseph Hickey, was elected governor in 1958 and appointed to the Senate in 1961. He went on to lose in the 1962 Senate election.

    Hickey did not return several calls to his law firm last week, but a Democratic source familiar with Wyoming politics said he is having conversations about a bid.
    Yet another Democrat whose name has come up in conversation is two-term former Governor Mike Sullivan (1987-1995) who lost to then-Rep. Craig Thomas in the 1994 Wyoming Senate race and was later appointed Ambassador to Ireland.

    Even with a few viable options, the question remains as to who is actually interested in moving forward with a bid. And then the question arises as to whether to compete for both seats or just focus on (and put resources into) the open seat, essentially giving Republican Senator Mike Enzi a pass. Enzi enjoys a strong approval rating, but not as strong as Freudenthal's. If Freudenthal was interested, he would likely be the clear frontrunner in a race for the open seat - but he is also likely the only Democrat who could offer a competitive race against Enzi. Could we see a Freudenthal-Enzi battle with another Democrat taking on a GOP understudy for the open seat?

    At any rate, it is reassuring to know that there are viable Democratic potential candidates in Wyoming. I trust that, once a replacement is appointed to fill the seat held by Thomas, the Wyoming media will begin contacting these Democrats to gauge interest and discern how these races might shake out.


    Blogger James said...

    Wyoming wont be competitive for the DEMs, unless their Governor Run, which I doubt.

    However, Oklahoma will be VERY competitive in 2008 on the Senate and Presidential Level.

    5:17 AM, June 12, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Are you expecting someone else to jump into the race? Andrew Rice won't beat Jim Inhofe.

    8:37 AM, June 12, 2007  
    Blogger Anthony_Distler said...

    Mike Sullivan would make the race interesting as well. Minus that, I think Wyoming stays red.

    The at-large House seat is in play, though. Cubin has horrible approval mumbers.

    11:11 AM, June 12, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    According to the taboo political report that Rove ran, Cubin is a retirement risk. She may be (should be) forced out by party leaders.

    12:16 PM, June 12, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Cubin is on such the hot seat that, before Craig Thomas' passing, Colin Simpson (who is a front-runner to make the WY-GOP's three-person finalist list to fill Thomas' seat) told Cubin that he was planning on challenging her in a primary in 2008. And if Simpson isn't named to Thomas' Senate seat, I don't see why those plans would change.

    1:28 PM, June 12, 2007  
    Blogger Political Realm said...

    I don't see Freudenthal as seeking a move to Washington and I doubt he'd want to risk it.

    Republicans are probably better off with Cubin vacating the seat.

    1:43 PM, June 12, 2007  

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