Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Help wanted: Wyoming Democrats need two replacement state senators (w/7/9 update)

Two Democrats have resigned their seats in the Wyoming State Legislature.

Sen. Bill Vasey of Rawlins has retired and moved to Arizona. Much as Wyoming retirees like to think of Arizona as the state’s 24th county, that designation is not yet official, thus Sen. Vasey must bid farewell to his District 11 Senate seat.

Sen. Ken Decaria of Evanston has moved to Cheyenne for a job as government relations director for the Wyoming Education Association. His change of job and venue caused him to resign his District 15 Senate position.

What does a perennial minority political party do when it loses two of its seven Senate seats (out of a total of 30)? Finds new blood – quickly.

Here’s the process as outlined in a July 6 press release:

Carbon County Democratic Party Chair Vern Whitfield announced today that the Democratic precinct committeemen and committeewomen of Senate District 11 will meet Monday, July 13, at 6 p.m. at the Jeffrey Center in Rawlins to interview those interested in filling the Senate seat. Senate District 11 includes all of Carbon County as well as the Rock River precinct in Albany County.

The process for filling a legislative vacancy is governed by the Wyoming State Statutes and the bylaws of the Wyoming Democratic Party.

The rules require the precinct committee members of the Senate district to meet and select three finalists for the position within 15 days of the party being notified of Sen. Vasey’s resignation. The party plans to select the finalists at the meeting on Monday, July 13.

State party bylaws state that any registered Democrat who lives in Senate District 11 who wants to be considered for the position must either appear in person at the meeting or send a written statement of intent. At the meeting, each candidate will be given the opportunity to present their qualifications and may be questioned by those present. Written statements of intent can be sent to Carbon County Democratic Party Chair Vern Whitfield at 1212 Weaver St., Rawlins, WY, 82301, and must be received by Monday, July 13.

At the meeting, after all the candidates speak and answer questions, the precinct committee members will vote by signed ballot to choose the three finalists. Those finalists' names will be submitted to the county commissioners in both Carbon and Albany counties. Then, the commissioners will have five days to meet and vote to appoint one of the finalists to fill the legislative vacancy. The county commissioners' votes will be weighted by the population of the portion of the Senate District that is in each county, using numbers from the 2000 U.S. Census.

FMI: Vern Whitfield, Carbon County Democratic Party Chair, 307-320-7479 (cell), 307-324-4205 (home). Bill Luckett, Wyoming Democratic Party Executive Director, 307-631-7638 (cell).

Dems will go through the same process in Senate District 15, which includes most of Uinta County, including the town of Evanston.

Uinta County Democratic Party Chair Sharon McPhie has announced that the Democratic precinct committeemen and committeewomen of Senate District 15 will meet Thursday, July 16, at 6 p.m., at the Uinta County Library in Evanston to interview those interested in filling the Senate seat. The meeting will be in the Almy Room. Contact: Sharon McPhie, 307-789-3691.

Needless to say, the Rawlins interviews on July 13 and the ones in Evanston July 16 will not require crowd control. The Union Pacific/I-80 corridor, from Pine Bluffs to Evanston in southern Wyoming, used to be owned by the Democrats. Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins and Rock Springs were loaded with union members in the railroads and mining. When I interviewed Kathy Karpan last August prior to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the Rock Springs native recalled how she grew up surrounded by union Democrats and didn’t even know there was such a thing as a "Republican." Alas, there are all too many Repubs in Rock Springs now. Most of the new energy industry jobs are non-union, and the railroad employs a fraction of what it used to. The blue traditions live on, but is fading.

That goes for Rawlins and Evanston. Evanston lies in the extreme southwestern corner that once was Utah territory but was lopped off and given to Wyoming territory to teach Brigham Young a lesson about succession and polygamy. But Brigham Young got his revenge. Uinta County remains solidly LDS and conservative Republican, a segment of the Mormon Corridor that encompasses all of Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

So, the Dems will really miss Sen. Decaria. The Democrats have never controlled the Wyoming legislature, although during Kennedy’s presidency they were very close with the highest percentage of Democrats at 47% (thanks to wikianswers.com).

HM will provide updates next week.

UPDATE on 7/9/09 from Bill Luckett: Please be advised that the date of the meeting to select finalists to replace Sen. Ken Decaria has been changed to TUESDAY, JULY 14, 2009. The meeting will still take place at 6 p.m., at the Uinta County Library in Evanston. For further information, please contact Sharon McPhie, Uinta County Democratic Party Chair, 307-789-3691 (home).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to attend the meeting....and more info???

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