Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

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

[This was originally posted just over three months ago on June 11. As Wyoming remains one of the few states left without even rumored Democratic opposition to a Republican incumbent, I thought it was worthwhile to re-post. If you live in Wyoming, check with your state Democratic Party to see if State Senator Mike Massie, former Gubernatorial candidate Paul Hickey, or former Governor and Ambassador Mike Sullivan might be interested in a run against Senate appointee John Barrasso, or whichever Republican wins the special election next year.]

  • 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.

  • 4 Comments:

    Blogger Anthony_Distler said...

    Wyoming is one of those states that we should just conceed. The Democrats shouldn't waste money on a state that they have practically no prospects in. Save it for some other more high profile seats.

    5:37 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger Bobby Duncan said...

    I respectfully disagree. There can be no 49 state strategy; if we don't show up, we can't win.

    I understand why you want to leave it, but also keep in mind that it forces them to spend money there too when they normally wouldn't if we didn't show up. Since we kind of have more money than them at the moment, thats our advantage. It keeps them from spending more money on high profile seats like Maine (where we need all the help we can get!)

    11:43 PM, September 18, 2007  
    Blogger Woody said...

    We always need to contest every seat. Things can happen -- macaca moments, an unfortunate stop in an airport mensroom, an untimely death. We have to be ready.

    For what it's worth, in 2000 and '04, the Repubs probably enjoyed a one or two point benefit from having a homestate son on the ticket. The Veep candidate usually adds that one or two percent. Next year, that little extra will be gone.

    And as I see it, having two open Senate seats next year is a unique opportunity. Many Repubs in Wyoming may be disappointed, shall we say, or even repulsed, by some of the goings on in their party. They might be tempted to "send a signal" without wanting to be completely disloyal. So with a House At Large seat and two Senate seats to vote on, restless Repubs could vote for two Repubs and one Democrat. In a tight race, if only one or two percent of the Repub voters decide to split their tickets, we could win one of the three. Or two.

    12:32 AM, September 19, 2007  
    Blogger Glenn said...

    I must strongly disagree with anthony_distler. Heck, 2006 IS the evidence that we should contest everything (or at least everything reasonable).

    I read that Wikipedia article on Sullivan--someone needs to start a Draft Mike Sullivan movement now, if there isn't already one!

    As for Mike Massie, I don't know him that well yet but I plan on doing some research on him at some point.

    2:18 PM, October 23, 2007  

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