Bill Sniffin: Big Red Wave Would Have Helped Wyoming; Our State Races Were Yawners

in Column/Bill Sniffin

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By Bill Sniffin, columnist

Elections have consequences. Especially on a national level.

It has taken a few days to digest the consequences of the big mid-term national elections Tuesday. 

And yet, as I write this, many of the big national questions are yet to be answered.

Here in Wyoming, our general election was a faint imitation of our amazing primary last August. That primary drew record numbers of voters and saw international press interest as it was viewed as a Liz Cheney versus Donald Trump battle.

Liz was trounced by national record numbers in that race by Harriet Hageman, who cruised to general election victory Tuesday. Harriet is now our representative and I predict she will do very well for us in Washington, D. C.

Let’s face it, Tuesday night in Wyoming was a big yawner. There were a few upsets but none were seismic. Rep. Chad Banks (D-Rock Springs) was the last Democrat to be elected from Sweetwater County and lost his legislative seat. 

In the big picture, our red state got redder. Conservatives were glad State Sen. Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) was reelected despite a few bumps in the road. 

To get a big turnout in Wyoming, you need these huge primary election races like the Cheney-Hageman (Trump) race. The biggest one prior to that was the 2018 primary, which featured three Republican candidates spending over $2 million each in their quest for governor. 

One of those was Mark Gordon who won in 2018 and cruised to a second term Tuesday night. He can only hope his next four years will not include drama like a COVID pandemic, oil dropping at $0 barrel, and a crashing economy. 

The outlook over the next four years looks much better. Most everybody in Wyoming has been pleasantly surprised by recent projections that we are awash with cash. Plus, we have boatloads of money left over from the Pandemic federal spending. 

Next year’s legislative session will be fun to watch as fiscal conservatives will want to stash that money into savings while the few moderates who are left will try to pay for more social programs, like Medicare expansion. 

Former U. S. Sen. Al Simpson always famously said that “in Wyoming, everything is political, except politics – which is personal.”

His comment correctly anticipated this past election season. Wyoming used to be somewhat above the nastiness that you would see across the country. Not anymore. 

Twenty years ago, when I was involved in a statewide Republican race, it seemed there were two litmus tests you needed to pass, if you wanted to be successful as a statewide GOP politician. 

The first was guns. You better be pro-hunting and you needed to be a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

The second was abortion. You better be pro-life. 

These two are still in effect but other things are coming into play these days.  

There appears to be a difference between pro-gun and really, really pro-gun. WyGo (Wyoming Gun Owners) displaced NRA and now there is another gun organization (Gun Owners of America)  that is not quite so extreme. Either way, this could be a minefield for a candidate in today’s world.

Back in 2002, the state Republican Committee was a huge factor.

Today that central committee is somewhat more conservative than many of our state’s elected officials. And the committee is not shy about pushing different candidates than the incumbents. We saw this across the state this year. 

On the national level, conservatives had such high hopes going into Tuesday.

Even liberal CNN was predicting a big night for Republicans, calling for a Red Wave. But it ended up being a red ripple.

As I write this, there is a tiny possibility that the GOP might still end up with the control of the U. S. Senate along with modest control of the U. S. House. Both are important for they provide some kind of sanity returning to the national spending spree and silly policies of President Joe Biden’s White House. 

The House is now dominated by Republicans which brings up the sad fact that Wyoming lost a golden opportunity for increased clout when Rep. Liz Cheney decided to vote to impeach President Trump. That decision 18 months ago cost her and the state of Wyoming unbelievable opportunities. These are lost gifts to our state which will not be duplicated in a lifetime. 

She was already the third-ranked Republican and possibly could have been in line to be speaker of the house. Alas, all that potential is now gone. 

Another big take-away from Tuesday is the clear emergence of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis becoming the new young face of the national Republican Party. 

He is a natural leader without all the drama and baggage that tags along with former President Donald Trump, who leads just about everything nationally for the GOP these days. 

DeSantis had the best line during his victory speech: “Florida is where woke goes to die.” Well said.

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