Democrats in Wyoming (Re-post from 6/11/07)
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.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.
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.
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.