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Gail Symons: Slow Down On Changing Wyoming Election Law

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By Gail Symons, guest columnist

Senate File 145 proposes Primary Election Run-offs and establishes a third election when a race does not result in a 51% majority. 

There is a February 2021 resolution from the State GOP Central Committee that raises this request, along with another from January 2021 that calls for eliminating absentee voting with the exception of Military and “valid reasons.” 

In 2018, Absentee voting was at 25% and increased to just under 50% in 2020. This data indicates the opinion of the State GOP may not reflect the interests of state Republicans.

Popular vote

There are strong arguments to be made on either side of the plurality vs. majority debate for declaring winners in our elections.  To rush through a change of such magnitude without the full vetting and participation of the electorate is both poor policy and poor representation. 

One of the primary benefits of legislative interim topics is providing time to gather information, clarify the problem/issue to be addressed, give the public full opportunity to weigh in with their opinions, explore alternative solutions, understand the impact of changes to be made and craft a bill that covers all necessary statutory changes.  None of this has occurred for this bill. 

Redistricting

Upon completion of the Census held every 10 years, states are required to incorporate the census into political districts through their legislative process no later than the following year.  This requirement has been upheld in the Supreme Court. 

Census data was initially expected to be available at the end of this month which would have provided the Joint Corporations Committee the full interim to hold meetings, take public testimony and work through required changes and their impact.  The delay constricts the process from 10 months to four months.  The final plan will be debated and passed in the short Budget Session Feb/Mar 2022.

Only after enacted into law can the Counties (Clerks/Commissioners) begin their work on precinct changes to ensure that these align with the districts.  Best case scenario is end of April 2022.  

Currently the filing period is 13 May 2022 through 27 May 2022 which provides little leeway for delays even in the existing election schedule.  The timing to provide for a third election would back the filing period in to February, the first half of the legislative session.  

The County Clerks twisted themselves into knots trying to figure out a way to make this work.  It simply cannot.

Timing/schedule

Outside of the ten-year redistricting cycle, the current election schedule has been carefully established to allow for processes dependent on the outcome of the Legislative Budget Session. 

This includes the statutorily established budget processes for the Counties.  The Commissioners and Clerks are heavily loaded to complete their budgets on time as the Clerks begin the election preparations.

Without going into the underlying details which can be obtained from your County Clerk, the Primary would have to move to the third Tuesday in May with a filing period the last two weeks in February.

If a run-off is necessary, it would take place on the third Tuesday in August.  The Campaign season will then be from March to November instead of just June to November.

It is critical to note that this now has the campaign season overlap with the Legislative Session by two weeks.  Is there anyone who thinks this would be a good idea?  In the current 2021 session with the elections more than a year away, there are already far too many Legislators who appear to be focused on campaign sound bites and reelection rather than good policy making.

Cost

Adding a Primary Run-off will incur a one-time expenditure of $188,000 for software changes to Wyoming Voter Registration System which would have to include changes in Campaign Finance as well.

Based on historical costs for running each of the two existing elections, the clerks have identified and additional cost per biennium of $1.1M to run 3rd election in the 23 Counties. 

This would be an unfunded mandate to the Counties without the the appropriation added to the proposed bill.  This will also need to be included in standard budgets going forward.  

In a time when every single program is being scrutinized and potentially cut to cover the $325M budget shortfall, committing even that relatively small increase is premature given the concerns already identified above.  

The other costs not addressed are to potential candidates who may have to raise funds for three elections rather than two.  This could result in an increased barrier for all but the wealthiest or best funded candidates.

Voter Participation

The final consideration for Primary run-off elections is the current state of voter participation.  Over the last 42 years, as the eligible population has increased steadily, voter registration and voter participation has steadily declined in both Primary and General Elections although the General has been at a flatter rate. 

Depending on whether it is a Presidential cycle or Gubernatorial, the number of voters in the General Election are either 200% or 150% of the Primary.

In the 2020 Primary, participation was 61% of all registered voters including a slightly higher rate for Republicans at 64%.  That is 89,790 voters who stayed home for the Primary including 60,590 Republicans.  

According to various sources, run-off election turnout is even lower than regular Primary elections.  Fair Vote reports that “rates often plunge so low that the democratic legitimacy of the elections is cast into doubt.”

Much has been made about the 2018 Republican Primary results for Governor where Mark Gordon received only 33% of the votes cast in a field of 6 contenders.  The claim made is that a plurality is not a legitimate win in that 67% of the voters did not vote for him. 

There were 61,177 registered Republicans who chose to not vote in the Primary.  In other words, only 43% of registered Republicans actively voted for someone OTHER than Gordon, giving him the majority.  This is further supported by his having the highest approval rating of all US Governors in 2019.

It is worth noting that in 2020, Republicans who did submit a ballot in the Primary only voted for precinct people 41% of the time.  Given the turnout rate, that means the County Central Committees only reflect the votes of 25% of the registered Republicans, the same rate as in 2018.  That reflects an even lower level of support than the 33% for the Governor.

Wyoming Elections have the highest possible voting integrity due to existing statutes, rules and guidance from the Secretary of State, processes and procedures by our County Clerks and the many dedicated volunteers at the polls. 

To maintain that integrity and assure continued confidence, a change of this magnitude demands the in-depth investigation and broad inclusion of the public made possible through a legislative interim topic.  The idea of Ranked Choice Voting (aka Instant Run-off) was raised as a more practical, efficient and less costly alternative.  That and other alternatives should be investigated IF a change is warranted.

Jim Willox, former Wyoming GOP Chairman, testified in Senate Corporations that this is based on a false premise that our elections are broken.  He reminded the committee that if not for the run-off elections in Georgia, Republicans would control the US Senate.  We must proceed with caution.

Gail Symons, from Sheridan County, runs a non-partisan site on the Wyoming Legislature called Civics307.com. Retirement from the US Navy and General Electric provides her time for civic engagement and community service.

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Brian Harmsen: Resilience. Practice. Gratitude. (And Coffee)

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Coffee. 

It’s a wonderful catalyst for reflection within the window of time and quiet it creates if you’re to enjoy it properly. 

This storm has been a historic event. It’s probably beyond time that we recognize and accept that?  Study up on the Blizzard of ‘49. Twelve dead in Wyoming alone. Stranded passenger trains. Livestock losses. And MONTHS of winter to follow. Gain even a modest perspective on what you see around you today. 

I’m grateful that a friend still thinks to forward a short, daily devotional to me in the morning just in time for my first cup of coffee. Today’s heading:  “Resilience. Practice. Gratitude.”  

It goes on, essentially describing how people who practice gratitude experience higher degrees of positive emotion, are protected from destructive impulses, and cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life.  While I most certainly fail in being grateful as often as anyone, it’s in times like these I best seem to find my footing again. 

God has blessed me. I managed to dig myself out. I have a warm home with uninterrupted heat and lights. I’m able to drive down my plowed rural road to the plowed highway. I have ample food. I have time to catch up on some things at work.

I have some bonus idle time to watch Charlie and Maggie chase bunnies. I have friends who’ve checked on me to see how I’m doing. While we’re kind of spread out here, I’m still able to help a neighbor whose blessings are different than mine.  I’ll get to fix some stuff I broke, but it’s probably also a blessing that I’ll help a business out once it warms up as well?

THE single most common statement I’ve heard us come back with from “the box” (Iraq/Afghanistan) is, “People here at home worry about the stupidest sh*t.”  The more I reflect, the more true it feels. 

Those destructive impulses and ineffective coping mechanisms manifest themselves in some of the Facebook posts I’m now reading. Anger that someone isn’t providing services faster, in spite of this being a historic storm. Frustration that lives are inconvenienced and interrupted. 

As well though, I see random posts directed to “whoever it was who plowed my driveway – thanks!,” “shout out to the linemen out there trying to restore power,” “look how bad the Interstates are – but there are our highway department crews out working.” 

You either have it – Or, you don’t.  You have a choice to “worry about stupid sh*t” – or not.  And if you can’t find something to be thankful for?  Well, you might just be focused on “stupid sh*t”?

Resilience. Practice. Gratitude. (and coffee). 

It’ll be a good day.

Col. Brian Harmsen (Retired) has appreciated and enjoyed our Wyoming outdoors as a resident of more than 40 years. He is originally from Sundance but has also lived in Laramie and Cheyenne.

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Rod Miller: Voter Apathy is the Enemy!

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Voter fraud is NOT the greatest threat to our republic, but voter apathy certainly is. The former is a glitch in our democratic process that through history has been present, but nowhere near prevalent enough to be a widespread threat. The latter poses a real risk to a nation operating under democratic principles.

We have laws against voter fraud intended to protect the sanctity of the voting booth. They need to operate as they were intended. But we have no laws against voter apathy which poses the greater threat to democracy.

There are, as we speak, 445,000 citizens of Wyoming of voting age. As of last election, 278,000 actually cast votes. For fact-checkers out there, these numbers are provided by the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office, and the Wyoming Dept. of Administration and Information, Economic Analysis Division.

Simple math reveals that 38% of eligible voters in Wyoming didn’t even bother to vote. That means that roughly one out of every three people you meet in Wyoming chose not to exercise their franchise and to participate in our collective political life.

I didn’t check nationwide numbers, but knowing Wyoming folks, I’ll hazard a guess that we’re doing better in that regard than the rest of the country. But more than a third of us not caring enough to vote? Give me a break!

Solon, often called the Father of Western Law, was the lawgiver in Athens about 2500 years ago. He amended the often brutal constitution of his predecessor, Draco, to be much more democratic and inclusive. It is from Draco that we get the adjective “draconian”.

One of Solon’s laws mandated that every eligible citizen in Athens must participate in their democracy or forfeit their citizenship. His reasoning was that, in political controversies, one side or the other is bound to win, but Solon didn’t want that victory to come about because of citizens’ apathy. He recognized that excluding any part of the population from decision-making would give more power to organized factions.

Contrast Solon’s view of democracy with our own in the United States. And don’t give me any of that “we don’t live in a democracy” crap. I know exactly where I live.

Our own “Great Experiment” began by limiting the franchise to wealthy, Anglo-Saxon landowners. We have spent the last couple hundred years expanding that to include everyone else through Constitutional amendments and federal laws.

I sure as hell wouldn’t have blamed a woman living in the early 19th century for feeling apathetic about voting. By law, she couldn’t vote. The same could be said for a black man in Alabama. What better way to foster voter apathy?

But our better American angels have, over time, broken down those barriers to citizen participation. In theory, at least.

Today, because so many noses got out of joint as a result of the 2020 election we see the “organized factions” that Solon condemned erecting once again barriers to full citizen participation. (Please note that, throughout this screed, I’m careful to use the term “citizen”).

Limiting polling places by demography, curtailing absentee voting, imposing strictures on registration and other knuckleheaded notions to counter “voter fraud” will do nothing more than make it more difficult for citizens to exercise their rights. I can think of no better way to increase voter apathy.

This approach will enable political victories that are not based upon the will of the citizens, but upon one faction or another successfully manipulating the process.

Call me old-school, and accuse me of having my head stuck in Athenian history, but I think a better solution would be to encourage the 170,000 eligible Wyoming voters who sat it out last time to fulfill their obligations as Wyoming citizens. We won’t accomplish that by making it harder to participate.

And then, once we have every eligible Wyoming voter engaged in our democratic process, we can worry about fraudulent votes.

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Mike Moser: Skill Games Extend Financial Lifeline For Bars And Clubs

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By Mike Moser, guest columnist
Mike Moser is the Executive Director of the Wyoming State Liquor Association.

In March, 2020, House Bill 171 (Wyoming gaming commission) passed the Wyoming Legislature and was signed by the governor into law.

Among other things, HB 171 placed in statute the licensure, regulation and taxation of “skill games” being operated primarily in hundreds of Wyoming bars and clubs, including fraternal and veteran’s organizations.

There is a cap of four per establishment, and since then, over $2 million dollars has been generated for the state.

A few weeks later we were in the middle of a pandemic. These skill games proved to be a financial lifeline to these 300 plus businesses, without of which some, no doubt, would have closed their doors.

That reliable source of revenue during a time when uncertainty reigned is a big reason why some of them are still in business, and their employees still have their jobs.

But there was a difficulty created with HB 171. Built into the bill was a sunset on the operation of the games (June 30, 2021) and a moratorium on those businesses who did not have these games when the bill was signed.

These provisions were put in place so the state could, in effect, test the games out – to see their effectiveness and if they were a good fit for the state.

They’ve proven to be a lifesaver for our bars and restaurants and a good stream of revenue for counties, cities and the state’s education fund.

Since, they’ve passed the test, the “fix” now is Senate File 56 (Wyoming gaming commission-modifications and corrections) currently on General File in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

As helpful as these skill games have been for our small businesses and clubs, without the passage of SF 56, that lifeline would be snapped.

And although we have seen a lifting of COVID restrictions, business is far from normal, and that reliable revenue stream is just as important to our businesses and employees as it has ever been. And we are far from over with the COVID crisis.

SF 56 does not create any new type of gaming, but it removes the statutory death sentence for these machines and the funding stream to our businesses and the State.

We do not have one reason to support SF 56… we have more than 300 reasons; the small businesses in your town that have relied on these games to help keep the lights on. Senate File 56 needs to pass for the sake of those businesses and our employees.

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William Perry Pendley: BLM Law Enforcement Officers Are Part of West’s ‘Thin Blue Line’

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By William Perry Pendley, guest columnist
Mr. Pendley, a Wyoming native, was Deputy Director, Policy and Programs, of the Bureau of Land Management during the Trump administration.

With rioting continuing in cities across the country, dangerous criminals and coyotes flooding across our southern border, and the Biden administration and Democrats questioning the loyalty of those who make up the thin blue line between anarchy and a civil society, I think daily of the law enforcement officers (LEOs) I led at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Within days of arriving in July of 2019, I got an introduction to their often-dangerous jobs as I watched Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt honor two Rangers for their brave and by-the-numbers response to a deadly encounter on a deserted mesa in western Colorado. Later, I saw their body-cam footage and marveled at their situational awareness, instantaneous response, and consummate professionalism.  

In my travels to BLM state, district, and field offices across the West, I got to know many of the BLM’s 212 Law Enforcement Rangers and 76 Special Agents, the men and women who protect visitors to, employees upon, and the valuable resources of the 245 million acres of surface estate for which they are responsible—one million acres each! 

Thus, they must keep in touch, work closely, and coordinate with fellow federal, state, and local law enforcement officers.  I watched as they joined state and local law enforcement in arresting dangerous suspects in Cortez, Colorado; responded to a request from a rural sheriff in Arizona to rescue a family stuck in freezing temperatures on a road to nowhere; and, teamed up in an all-hands-on-deck effort to locate a missing American Indian teenager in rural Montana. 

In early 2020, I addressed the Western States Sheriffs Association in Reno and closeted for hours with BLM Senior Agents in Charge to learn how to improve the professionalism, morale, and mutual trust and respect of the BLM law enforcement community.  I was eager for more one-on-one meetings with individual LEOs, but then COVID-19 hit our shores.

After the tragic death of George Floyd and the peaceful protests and then anarchist riots that followed, I knew I had to speak with them and answer their questions.  We did so in one of the BLM’s first “Town Hall” Zoom Meetings.  In part, I said:

We are experiencing a troubling time for our country and for our republican form of government.  The ability to freely and peacefully express our views is fundamental in our society, and our law enforcement officers play a huge role in protecting this right.  While many seek to exercise their rights peacefully, others are turning to unlawful activity.

We worry today, not just about the future of our country, which, over 200 years ago, replaced rule by men and tyrants with liberty and justice for all. 

We worry too about our families, friends, and loved ones, in cities large and small across this great country.  And, let us be candid, in your private moments, despite your training, wealth of muscle memory, and justified self-confidence, you may have your own worries as you watch the news every night.

Finally, I sought to put their minds at ease.  “Rest assured; I have your back.”

I was gratified by the responses I received.  One wrote, “‘I have your back.’  We have never heard that from a deputy director.”

Afterward, BLM’s LEOs distinguished themselves:  guarding COVID-19 quarantine sites, protecting monuments during the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., and responding to calls for assistance from sheriffs across the West. 

Meanwhile, they safeguarded and rescued visitors, spotted and nabbed wrongdoers, and helped bring criminals to justice, all while being good neighbors to westerners and visitors.

As fiscal year 2020 drew to a close, I bulldogged a contract across the finish line to provide body-cameras for all BLM LEOs and a state-of-the-art system to store and access the data.  As the year ended, I had to stand up for the LEOs on one final, major, decades-old issue.

In 2002, the Inspector General (IG) for the Department of the Interior made a series of Department-wide recommendations regarding law enforcement, which the Secretary ordered adopted. 

Over the years, most were implemented.  One remained undone however:  placing all BLM LEOs in an exclusively law enforcement chain of command. 

This was not just the IG’s recommendation, but also the urging of law enforcement professionals for decades.  In fact, in 2020, the Department’s top LEO urged its application. 

BLM leadership stonewalled, adhering to a haphazard system where LEOs reported to non-LEO superiors with expertise in other fields—range management or petroleum engineering, e.g.—with only 24-hours of law enforcement study. 

Obviously, those managers lack a comprehensive understanding of law enforcement issues—constitutional, legal, and tactical.

Thus, in our final days, Bernhardt ordered and I implemented the IG’s recommendation.  Of course, leadership heads exploded; they were furious with their loss of authority, not to mention FTEs and budgets. 

Nonetheless, it was best for the LEOs, best for the BLM, and best for westerners who want those who make life and death decisions to be the best trained, best equipped, and reporting via a professional, expert, and knowledgeable chain of command.

That we had done the right thing became clear in the days before I left.  Four sheriffs from Utah drove to Grand Junction to thank me for ensuring their confidence in entering into law enforcement agreements with the BLM.  They said they spoke for sheriffs across the West.

Meanwhile, given the attacks on law enforcement by the media, the Biden administration, and Democrat politicians, I ask that, next time you see a Ranger, say “Howdy and thanks!”

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Foster Friess: What Are God’s Dreams?

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By Foster Friess, columnist

Just as an outrider keeps the herd on the right trail, Foster’s Outriders works to keep our country on the right path. Looking at America’s dissension and anger today, we could use a mid-course change in our spiritual direction.

How can some who have been treated terribly react with grace and forgiveness that defies understanding, such as the nine families who forgave the white supremacist who shot their relatives in the 2015 Charleston tragedy, while so many others react to injustice by lashing out in anger?

How can we have more of our country react to evil with vigils, sadness and resolve rather than riots, bricks and fires? In which culture would you rather live?

In which example can we heal America’s disunity and anger?

Foster’s Outriders is enamored with Thomas Jefferson’s view, “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus.”

What did Thomas Jefferson, who was not a Christian, see in those teachings that captured his appreciation? Always consider other people more important than yourself. We’ve been set free to serve. Never return evil for evil. Strive for servanthood, not power. Be an encourager, not a denigrator.

Unfortunately, secularists, in advancing their agenda of division, have turned many against these teachings. Teachings that hold the answers to healing our nation.

Forgiveness impressed Jefferson the most. As Jesus was poked, stabbed and hoisted onto His cross, he uttered, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Foster’s Outriders launches, supports and endorses numerous efforts that embody the notion that anger and hate does not drive out hatred; love drives out hate.

Rachel’s Challenge embraces the exhortation of Rachel Scott, the first Columbine victim, to create a chain reaction of kindness and works to end bullying and drug abuse.

The annual Outriders National Coffee Challenge, inspired by LGBTQ leader Donna Red Wing’s example, encourages Americans to invite someone with whom they disagree to coffee. The best examples shared on social media receive rewards.

ACE Scholarships enable low-income students to attend private schools of their parents’ choice.

Water Mission designs and builds safe water and sanitation systems in developing countries, often in conjunction with a natural disaster.

Outriders organize Harmony Meals, where black and white churches partner to host law enforcement.

These are a few of the programs the Foster’s Outriders Foundation supports to help heal America. Engaging in these programs allows us an opportunity to set an example of how we might fulfill some of God’s dreams for America. These projects welcome people of every ethnicity, political and religious persuasion. Each program provides an opportunity for us to come together in harmony to express love to our fellow man.

I would see America as one of the most harmonious, loving communities if it weren’t for those who want to exploit divisiveness for their own profitability and power. There are those in the press and “Kingdom of DC” special interests groups who benefit from dissension and make money off of it. What can we do to counter them?

Those in Charleston exhibited the teachings of forgiveness and never returned evil for evil. Teachings that created self-esteem and a realization that God has a plan for their lives. This stands in contrast to secular teachings, where self-esteem doesn’t come from a sense of God’s love for them but instead from materialism — a bigger house, more expensive car and from power.

Which route will you champion?

Let’s listen to Thomas Jefferson’s assessment of all the great concepts Jesus articulated and leave the winning of people to the Christian faith to our nation’s pastors.

We can focus on making the world a better place for all Americans, whether Christian or secularist, Republican, Democrat or Independent, black, white, yellow or bro

Join us at Foster’s Outriders. Together we’ll get there!

Doug Camblin: Reagan’s Big Tent GOP Is The Best Future For Wyo

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Hello Fellow Republicans

It is a wonderful time to be a Republican. Probably the most exciting time in our history. Why, you may ask? Because we have the opportunity to show what we stand for and what we are made of.

Are we the Big Tent party that President Reagan spoke of or are we the party that wants a purity test to prove how Republican we are. Will we be an inclusive party that supports and encourages Republicans to get involved with civic engagement at every level of our political process?

I choose the Big Tent, where every Republicans voice is welcome, where issues can be debated in a civil and respectful  manner, where you have to check your bully weapons at the door and debate every issue on its merits.

Where personal attacks will not be tolerated, where campaigns are based on the positive attributes of the candidate, not the negative fear generating tactic of, the world will come to an end if you vote for the other Republican. Honesty in campaigning is of the utmost importance.

These ideals are lofty goals I know. Goals should be set high enough to stretch us, while at the same time be attainable. These goals are attainable. Only with a party that is unified and singular in our vision.

I am not speaking of being robots that all walk, talk and think alike. I am saying we need to be unified in our vision that the Republican Party and its conservative values are the best way to govern our Great Nation and State. 

The Republican Party to me is an honorable institution that is based on conservative values, fair play in politics, and supporting what is good and honorable for all of society, not just the voting base that you were elected by.

Once elected you represent all of the citizens in the Precinct, City, County, State and Nation you are elected in. You get the grand opportunity to hear the concerns and needs of every citizen or agency in your specific jurisdiction.

Then comes the hard decisions and what makes the jobs so difficult and demanding. You have to make decisions based on your wisdom, experience and moral compass. You make decisions on your conscience  based on constitutional law. All decisions need to have a foundation in the law, for without law we have chaos. 

What we have happening in our Country and State and even locally is a scramble for unity. It seems there is a void in the leadership of our Party. A strong leader that we relied on is no longer there and there is now a struggle to find our balance, similar to a boxer who gets caught with a good punch is dazed and trying to find his balance so he can continue the fight.

We are far from knocked out, We need unity, both feet firmly planted on the foundation of our Party, our Constitution (all of it not just a couple of favorite’s) and trust in our political system, and trust in our elected officials.

We need strong leadership that is honest and fair. We have those leaders today, Our Governor of this Great State, Mark Gordon, Senator John Barrasso, Senator Cynthia Lummis, and Rep. Liz Cheney to name a few. 

When the final count is in and they are in office we need to support them. There is a tactic used by our opposing party to say they are not my President, or whatever position you want to add. Republicans are better than that. We are not sore losers.  When they take office we should not undermine them by silly censures or unfounded attempts at recall.

We have a system of term limits in place called elections. We need to focus on the future and plan on how we can do better to regain a position we lost.

One of my favorite analogies is, “The windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror for a reason”. Look to the future more than you look at the past, it is behind you, there is no redo button.

Unity is essential to achieve the goals of taking back the majority in the U.S, House, U.S. Senate, and Presidency. We cannot allow the gut wrenching spectacle of self annihilation go on any longer.

The vindictive actions of former President Trump have got to stop, they are counterproductive to unity and are down right mean spirited. These are not Republican values. I have read the transcript of President Trump’s speech to CPAC, numerous statements stood out.

First off, I know he uses hyperbole and is prone to exaggeration and that is his style. When he makes statements that he calls facts, such as there has never been a President that the crowd has chanted ” We Love You ” is a troubling statement and in my opinion severe narcissism.

When he called all of the Supreme Court Justices coward’s, all the Judges that heard his cases in over 60 court rooms cowards that are more than hyperbole that is just plain wrong.

In both cases his administration appointed or nominated many of these honorable men to fill those seats. His statement that there were tens of millions of fraudulent votes cast in his favor that were not counted and would have changed the results of the election is more than exaggeration, it is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. These are just a few of the falsehoods that he tried to present as the truth.

When President Trump on January 6, 2021 called V.P. Pence a coward, I lost all respect for President Trump, V.P. Pence had campaigned for him and stood by him at every turn.

For President Trump to turn his back on him because he chose that his oath of office was more sacred than doing Trump’s bidding is reprehensible. He attended the inaugural ceremony, unlike President Trump who left town and refused to attend. So who is the coward?

In the writing of this I am very aware that calling out the former President may not be seen as very unifying. President Trump has vowed to defeat our Honorable Representative at all cost, so in comparison to that divisive behavior this article is nothing. 

I encourage all Republicans to recognize that the policies of theTrump administration were good and beneficial to our country and economy. Trump’s bully type style was not.

That style cost the Republican Party the majority in the House in 2018, The Senate and Presidency in 2020. Those Conservative values and policies are not exclusive to Donald Trump. Those values and policies have been a vital part of the Republican Party long before DT was born.

I will support Republican candidates that would be able to promote these products of Conservatism. Stand up Republicans support civil, respectful campaigns and denounce the negative hate filled candidates that only promote fear and distrust. 

Unity is, promoting our Grand Ole Party and it’s Conservative ideals with decency and respect for others.

Doug Camblin is a rancher, small businessman,precinct man for the Republican Central Committee 7-1 in Campbell County, and one of the founders of the Frontier Republicans.

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Jonathan Lange: Prepare to Stand With Andrew Brunson

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). Generations of Christians have heard these words on the day of their confirmation. It is an experience shared by many—although that cultural heritage seems to be fading. But fewer still are aware of the context of these words.

This verse is from the biblical book of the Revelation. They are spoken “to the angel of the Church at Smyrna,” an ancient city in Asia Minor. Its modern name is “Izmir, Turkey.” And, for 23 years it was the home of missionary, Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine.

On an October day in 2016, they arrived home to find a note summoning them to the local police station. This note was the beginning of a two-year ordeal that neither of them anticipated, nor were they prepared for it.

It is as if the ancient words spoken to the angel of the Church at Smyrna were spoken directly to Andrew. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation” (Rev. 2:10).

Upon arrival at the police station, they were informed that they were being arrested for deportation. However, rather than boarding a plane for the U.S., they were herded into a detention center. Norine was released after 13 days, but Andrew’s ordeal was only beginning.

At first, Andrew was worried that he would be unjustly deported from his decades-long work as a missionary. Soon that fear was replaced by its opposite—a fear that he would never be deported, but would instead spend the rest of his life in a Turkish prison. The Erdogan government had just survived a military coup attempt, and falsely accused Brunson of crimes against the state.

Brunson had always conducted his Izmir mission openly and legally. He had always steered clear of involvement in the power struggles of Turkish political factions. Nevertheless, he was accused of being a terrorist, a military spy, and an organizer of the recent coup. They were all lies, but they were useful lies. They supplied the Erdogan government with propaganda to paint Christians as traitors and “haters of Turks.”

After Norine’s release, Andrew was moved to solitary confinement in another detention center, then to a high security prison. There, isolated by culture, nationality, and life experience he felt the utterly alone in his Christian faith. “It broke me,” he humbly admits. It brought unexpected feelings. He lost the sense of God’s presence and grace, and wondered if God had abandoned him.

It was in the middle of these dark days that he discovered a truth that he is now sharing with anyone who will listen: Don’t follow your feelings about God. Just follow God. His words are true whether you feel their truth or not.

From this new perspective, Andrew came to see that prison was not abandonment by God, but an assignment from God. “I was doing nothing,” he recalled, “Just sitting in prison and trying to hold on. But people were praying all over the world.”

Sometimes your greatest value to the community is simply to be the object of prayers. On occasion, God calls people to great and mighty deeds, but more often mere endurance and keeping the faith under pressure is God’s only assignment.

Brunson’s assignment of endurance ended as quickly and as unexpectedly as it began. On October 12, 2018, just over two years after his arrest, he was falsely and irrationally convicted of terrorism and sentenced to prison. Then, in a face-saving move, the Erdogan government told him he could leave the country while he appealed the sentence. Within 24 hours he and Norine were sitting in the Oval Office with President Trump and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state.

The arrest that was meant to intimidate other missionaries and the tiny community of Turkish Christians had, instead, brought international attention to their plight. For Andrew and his faithful wife, it has both taught him much and given them a platform to reach millions.

On March 24, the Wyoming Pastors Network (WPN) is giving the people of Cheyenne the opportunity to hear them personally. While Andrew is in town for a conference, the WPN has partnered with Christian supporters to offer a free presentation open to the public.

That Wednesday at 9:00 AM., Andrew and his wife, Norine, will tell their story at the auditorium of Calvary Chapel, 9209 Ridge Rd. This is not a church service, but a talk—with plenty of opportunity for questions and answers. One need not be Christian to attend. All are invited to this informative and encouraging presentation.

Dave Simpson: Miss Frances Didn’t Mince Words

in Dave Simpson/Column
9435

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

We called them “Franisms,” and our friends couldn’t wait for the next installment.

My mother-in-law, Frances Elvira Wood, came to live with us 10 years ago. She was 86 at the time, and didn’t mince words. That’s where her salty Franisms came from.

We started posting them on Facebook.

Every week she would get her hair done at the local cosmetology school, where she paid  $7, plus a $1 tip.

“A dollar doesn’t go very far,” Fran said, “but that’s what she gets.”

One day on the way home she told my wife Caryl, “I had a new girl today. She didn’t have any tattoos or purple hair.”

“Maybe she doesn’t like that,” Caryl replied.

“Just give her a month,” Fran replied, “and she’ll look like the rest of ’em.”

Driving past a tattoo parlor in town, she said, “I hate tattoos. They just ruin a pretty girl.”

Another time she told Caryl, “All those girls wear six-inch spike heels.

“They deserve to fall on their faces for such stupidity. And I’m not helping them up.”

She told me the students were “little devils” when they took up all the parking spaces in front of the beauty school, so they could smoke cigarettes in their cars during breaks, requiring Fran to walk half a block with her two replaced knees and a walker.

The tattooed, purple-haired beauticians liked her anyway. When I get haircuts, the barber often remembers “Miss Frances” from the beauty school. (Must have been those $1 tips.)

For years she went to Walmart with Caryl every Sunday, and shopped in a motorized shopping cart. One day, as they were checking out, she said, “Every woman in here is two ax handles wide and covered in tattoos.”

“You can tell who’s been eating the potato chips.”

I did my share of driving Fran around town, because Caryl was still working as a nurse practitioner in the psych unit at our local hospital.

One day we were stopped at a stop light. An obviously disturbed guy walked across in front of us and gave us the finger. Far from offended, Fran broke out laughing, and said, “He’s probably one of Caryl’s patients!”

Fran was not impressed by the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics: “This is the damndest mess I’ve ever seen. It’s so loud I had to take out one hearing aid.”

She was equally brutal one day when a bouquet arrived.  “That’s not a very nice bouquet,” she said. “They just threw in a bunch of crap and filler.”

One morning in 2017 Fran fractured her hip. An ambulance took her to the hospital, where a surgeon repaired the hip.

After the surgery, Caryl reported that her mom was “doing pretty well,” considering. She told Fran she was heading home.

“Go home and go to bed,” Fran replied in a croaky voice, “and stay off that damn computer.”

She told her nurses, “I have been deaf for years and it used to bother me. But now I don’t give a damn that I can’t hear what you girls say.”

After her surgery, she said,“They give you drugs, and when you’re out they toss you around like a sack of potatoes.”

“They said I might not walk again. Bull—t! I’m not going to lay around in this bed for the rest of my life!”

When they tried to dismiss her from the hospital earlier than expected, she said, “If you send me home tomorrow you might as well call the undertaker!” She got two more days.

Two weeks ago, Fran was in the hospital again, this time with internal bleeding. She told Caryl, “I’m going to strangle my doctor for ordering all these blood draws.”

“You have a different doctor here in the hospital,” Caryl explained. “It isn’t your regular doctor’s fault.”

“Then who do I strangle?” she replied.

Frances Elvira Wood, age 96, passed away peacefully two days later, with Caryl holding her hand.

The day before, passing in and out of consciousness, she told Caryl, “I’m going to kick your (let’s say caboose).”

That was my mother-in-law.

Feisty to the end.

We wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Jimmy Orr: How We Measure Snow in Wyoming — Beer, Children, Cars

in Jimmy Orr/Column
9336

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

In Wyoming, they say you used to measure trips between towns by the “six-pack”.

Of course, those days are long-gone now but beer is still a popular part of the culture. So why wouldn’t we use beer to communicate how we’re dealing with a blizzard?

Beer communicates a lot.  Like how much snow you’ve received.

Ask Wheatland’s Tony Montoya. Nearly four cans of beer so far or 23.6 inches, he said in a Facebook post.

Beer can also communicate your readiness for the elements. Like Paul Delap did in Casper.

“I’m ready for a power outage,” Delap posted with ever-western yellow bottles of Coors. “Mother Nature will provide the means to keep our survival supplies refrigerated.”

His planning garnered much applause by other Wyoming citizens.

“Excellent use of available resources,” Michelle Dahl wrote.

“Love that Wyoming ingenuity,” Maria Salisbury said.

You can also measure snow depth by your children. Like Brittaney Cree Bales did. She said she “almost lost our 8-year-old out there!”

She was commended for the bright green coat her child wore. Excellent choice in case he ventured out too far.

Cars are an excellent way to measure snow depth. Just ask Susan Edgerton. Snowfall at her house looks to be at about an entire Honda.

Then there’s the standard way you can measure snow — by the snowman.

Casper’s C May Heid asks the right question: “When’s the last time the snow was this perfect texture to make a fabulous snowman?”

No kidding. Picture perfect.

Cheyenne City Councilman Jeff White was decidedly more pessimistic. 

“20 inches and now the drifting.  See you in April,” he wrote.

Jeff, we are sorry to tell you. As as 11:30 am, Cheyenne has officially received 26 inches and the storm ain’t done.

See you in May…

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