Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wyoming GOPers get ready to rumble in 2014

Today's Casper Star-Tribune lead editorial carried news of a brewing Republican rumble.

The Wyoming GOP Central Committee recently approved a resolution to repeal Senate File 104 -- the so-called "Hill Bill." SF 104 stripped State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill of most of her superintendent duties. She and her minions were unceremoniously moved from her suite at the Hathaway Building to a bunker in an undisclosed location. Hill only has a few duties left in her job description. Those include roles as the state graham-cracker-and-milk monitor and manager of arithmetic flash cards.

Republicans are miffed. Thing is, SF 104 was a Republican-generated bill. The Central Committee is the steering mechanism for the WY GOP. It appears that the CC was egged on by the Constitution Party and Tea Party members in its ranks. So one core group of Repubs was responsible for the bill that removed Hill, and another core group of Repubs want to repeal said bill.

To make matters more complicated, Hill is suing Gov. Mead for signing off on the bill, and has announced she is running for governor in 2014.

This clash will further alienate Wyoming's usually sensible conservative majority. They may come out in droves to vote for Mead's reelection, or they may sit home in disgust. They may even vote for the Democratic Party candidate, as they often have in the past. Thanks to solid support by Democrats and a sizable bloc of moderate Republicans, I have spent more than half of my 22 years in Wyoming serving a Democrat in the State Capitol. They were Mike Sullivan and Dave Freudenthal. What Dem might run in 2014? Maybe Nancy Freudenthal could be tempted to give up her judge's robes for the many pairs of sensible shoes it takes to go door-to-door in a gubernatorial run. Probable not very likely. Who else is waiting in the wings?

Good question. The Dems have had a tough time fielding good candidates for Gov and other state elected offices. Laramie Democrat Mike Massie was the best candidate for the state superintendent's job in 2010. That was the year of the Tea Party's rise, when it was the kiss of death to have a "D" by your name on the ballot. About Hill, we can now say to Republicans: "We told you so."

We may take the same stance in 2014. How delicious it will be to sit on the sidelines and witness the GOP bloodletting. Problem is, it will be a huge embarrassment to the state. As the CST put it:
The answer will impact far more than education. The near future of the GOP in Wyoming, given the disparate percentage of Republicans here. will dictate the long-term fate of Wyoming.

Businesses are watching. Tourists are watching. Entrepreneurs are watching. The energy sector is watching.
Gov. Mead is a moderate on most things. Yes, he was part of the ridiculous  lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act, and he's stubbornly resisted Medicaid expansion. But he is a strong supporter of economic development in our communities and tourism. He knows that the state's future has more to do with high technology, education, entrepreneurs and creatives than it does with the extractive industries and whether or not a person can carry a gun into his favorite restaurant.

Sure it would be fun watch a GOP Battle Royal. But if you like this place and its people (as I do), you hope for something more civilized.

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