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Doug Gerard: Wyoming Elections Need Updated, But We Need To Do It Right

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By Doug Gerard, guest columnist

It’s time Wyoming got a government that prioritized the goals of everyday Wyoming citizens, specifically reduced spending, reducing old and preventing new taxes, all while protecting the individual’s rights.

Our current legislature didn’t do what the people wanted in the special session. Worse still, a sizeable minority of the Republicans in the Wyoming legislature often vote against the Wyoming Republican platform.  

In the wake of the Wyoming GOP decision to no longer recognize Rep. Liz Cheney as Republican, it points out one of the most significant flaws in Wyoming politics, namely lawmakers are not responsible to the party they represent in any way.   

Something has to change.

Our current candidate system assumes a candidate has the party’s support for which the candidate has registered as a voter. It’s crazy to think it, but if Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, or Liz Cheney could move to Wyoming, register as Republicans, and then run for office as Republicans. No one, not the Secretary of State, or the Wyoming Republican Party, could do anything to stop it.  

As proof, recently, even with the Wyoming GOP disavowal of Rep. Cheney, her name will still have the ‘R’ next to it on the 2022 ballot if she decides to run and is still a registered Republican.  

Wyoming’s other election problem is its overreliance on primary elections. Wyoming primaries have two flaws. To start, far too often, Wyoming ends up electing a candidate in the primary that most primary voters didn’t select. To make matters worse, with each passing election, a growing number of general election races are uncontested. The 2020 election saw 61% of legislative offices with only one candidate in the general election.

Examine the results of our past elections. In the 2010 gubernatorial election, Matt Mead won 23.3% of the over 100,000 Republican primary votes cast. The 2016 US House Republican primary election saw Liz Cheney elected with only 39.9% of the vote. In the 2018 gubernatorial election, Mark Gordon achieved his Republican primary victory with 33.4% of over 116,000 primary votes cast.  

In each of these examples, the primary winner had more than 60% of Republicans voting against them. Even though they won a plurality, they didn’t win a majority and, consequently, shouldn’t be the victor. If runoffs were in place, perhaps Wyoming could have avoided Governor Mead’s SF-104 debacle, Governor Gordon’s mask mandates, and Rep. Cheney voting to impeach President Trump.

The Republican grassroots have been advocating for a change to Wyoming elections for many years. Only since Rep. Cheney’s infuriating impeachment vote has the movement gained any traction. Sophomore legislator Chip Neiman-(R, HD-1, Crook/Westin) has heard the people in his district and is doggedly pursuing a runoff election bill.

The runoff election is a good idea, one that I support. But, what if we are solving the wrong problem?

Since 2010 we have seen an alarming trend where an increasing amount of legislative races in the general election are uncontested. In 2020 61% of the legislative polls went uncontested in the general election. 

A primary sees roughly half the voters of a general election, meaning a well-organized minority has the opportunity to use the primary election to their advantage and force their minority view.  

I firmly believe that the largest group of voters should elect our legislators and should have a choice to make when voting. We should have at least two candidates for each statewide office and every legislative seat in the general election. Every voter, not just motivated primary voters, deserves to have a choice in the general election.

Can these problems be fixed? I think they can, and the fix is simple. 

First, let’s switch to a top-two candidate primary, and second, let political parties decide which candidates they endorse.  

We need to seriously consider a top-two primary where the two largest vote earners advance to the general election regardless of party. A top-two primary puts all the candidates in a single primary and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, move on to the general election. 

The most significant objection to top-two primaries is it can lead to one-party rule. While it is a fair observation, it is one without distinction. Wyoming effectively has one-party control under the Republicans anyway. Nationally, Democrats continue to drift further away from the common-sense family values most Wyoming citizens’ hold dear.  This leaves Republicans as the only viable choice, in effect, ceding Republican one-party rule.

Lettings the political parties decide who carries their party flag in the election is relatively straightforward too.

When a candidate registers to run for office, they register as an individual without party affiliation. Registration would allow candidates optionally to request endorsement from political parties as part of registration. Two weeks after candidate registration closes, the political parties would select from the candidates that requested endorsement. The party endorsements are submitted to the Secretary of State and the county clerks. The endorsed candidates would have the party’s endorsement listed after their name on the ballot; candidates who didn’t get endorsed wouldn’t. Voters would see the candidates each party thought would represent their party well.  

Candidates could request the endorsement of as many parties as they wish, and political parties can approve as many or as few candidates as they like well. To ensure each party has consistent statewide standards, the state parties would decide which legislators and statewide and national office candidates would earn their blessing. County parties would decide on the approvals for county and other local partisan offices.

These changes, while small, would ensure three critical things:

  1. The general election, with its more prominent number of voters, would decide more races.
  2. The general election would effectively be a runoff election.
  3. It would make the elected officials accountable to their political parties.

It also has the benefits of little extra cost and little extra effort from the county clerks. This benefit is more significant than it appears at first blush.  

The only genuine concern of adopting the top-two primary is switching the method of candidate registration and party endorsement going unimplemented. Left-leaning legislators won’t likely want that done as they are most likely to lose Republican endorsement.  Both changes however will give voters more information when they head to the polls.

Wyoming election law needs to be updated; when it gets done, let’s make sure we do it the right way for the right reason, addressing the right problems.  

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Doug Gerard: Solving The Right Election Problem

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By Doug Gerard, guest columnist

It’s time Wyoming got a government that prioritized the goals of everyday Wyoming citizens, specifically reduced spending, reducing old and preventing new taxes, all while protecting the individual’s rights.

Our current legislature didn’t do what the people wanted in the special session. Worse still, a sizeable minority of the Republicans in the Wyoming legislature often vote against the Wyoming Republican platform.  

In the wake of the Wyoming GOP decision to no longer recognize Rep. Liz Cheney as Republican, it points out one of the most significant flaws in Wyoming politics, namely lawmakers are not responsible to the party they represent in any way.   

Something has to change.

Our current candidate system assumes a candidate has the party’s support for which the candidate has registered as a voter. It’s crazy to think it, but if Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, or Liz Cheney could move to Wyoming, register as Republicans, and then run for office as Republicans. No one, not the Secretary of State, or the Wyoming Republican Party, could do anything to stop it.  

As proof, recently, even with the Wyoming GOP disavowal of Rep. Cheney, her name will still have the ‘R’ next to it on the 2022 ballot if she decides to run and is still a registered Republican.  

Wyoming’s other election problem is its overreliance on primary elections. Wyoming primaries have two flaws. To start, far too often, Wyoming ends up electing a candidate in the primary that most primary voters didn’t select. To make matters worse, with each passing election, a growing number of general election races are uncontested. The 2020 election saw 61% of legislative offices with only one candidate in the general election.

Examine the results of our past elections. In the 2010 gubernatorial election, Matt Mead won 23.3% of the over 100,000 Republican primary votes cast. The 2016 US House Republican primary election saw Liz Cheney elected with only 39.9% of the vote. In the 2018 gubernatorial election, Mark Gordon achieved his Republican primary victory with 33.4% of over 116,000 primary votes cast.  

In each of these examples, the primary winner had more than 60% of Republicans voting against them. Even though they won a plurality, they didn’t win a majority and, consequently, shouldn’t be the victor. If runoffs were in place, perhaps Wyoming could have avoided Governor Mead’s SF-104 debacle, Governor Gordon’s mask mandates, and Rep. Cheney voting to impeach President Trump.

The Republican grassroots have been advocating for a change to Wyoming elections for many years. Only since Rep. Cheney’s infuriating impeachment vote has the movement gained any traction. Sophomore legislator Chip Neiman-(R, HD-1, Crook/Westin) has heard the people in his district and is doggedly pursuing a runoff election bill.

The runoff election is a good idea, one that I support. But, what if we are solving the wrong problem?

Since 2010 we have seen an alarming trend where an increasing amount of legislative races in the general election are uncontested. In 2020 61% of the legislative polls went uncontested in the general election. 

A primary sees roughly half the voters of a general election, meaning a well-organized minority has the opportunity to use the primary election to their advantage and force their minority view.  

I firmly believe that the largest group of voters should elect our legislators and should have a choice to make when voting. We should have at least two candidates for each statewide office and every legislative seat in the general election. Every voter, not just motivated primary voters, deserves to have a choice in the general election.

Can these problems be fixed? I think they can, and the fix is simple. 

First, let’s switch to a top-two candidate primary, and second, let political parties decide which candidates they endorse.  

We need to seriously consider a top-two primary where the two largest vote earners advance to the general election regardless of party. A top-two primary puts all the candidates in a single primary and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, move on to the general election. 

The most significant objection to top-two primaries is it can lead to one-party rule. While it is a fair observation, it is one without distinction. Wyoming effectively has one-party control under the Republicans anyway. Nationally, Democrats continue to drift further away from the common sense family values most Wyoming citizens’ hold dear.  This leaves Republicans as the only viable choice, in effect, ceding Republican one-party rule.

Lettings the political parties decide who carries their party flag in the election is relatively straightforward too.

When a candidate registers to run for office, they register as an individual without party affiliation. Registration would allow candidates optionally to request endorsement from political parties as part of registration. Two weeks after candidate registration closes, the political parties would select from the candidates that requested endorsement. The party endorsements are submitted to the Secretary of State and the county clerks. The endorsed candidates would have the party’s endorsement listed after their name on the ballot; candidates who didn’t get endorsed wouldn’t. Voters would see the candidates each party thought would represent their party well.  

Candidates could request the endorsement of as many parties as they wish, and political parties can approve as many or as few candidates as they like well. To ensure each party has consistent statewide standards, the state parties would decide which legislators and statewide and national office candidates would earn their blessing. County parties would decide on the approvals for county and other local partisan offices.

These changes, while small, would ensure three critical things:

  1. The general election, with its more prominent number of voters, would decide more races.
  2. The general election would effectively be a runoff election.
  3. It would make the elected officials accountable to their political parties.

It also has the benefits of little extra cost and little extra effort from the county clerks. This benefit is more significant than it appears at first blush.  

The only genuine concern of adopting the top-two primary is switching the method of candidate registration and party endorsement going unimplemented. Left-leaning legislators won’t likely want that done as they are most likely to lose Republican endorsement.  Both changes however will give voters more information when they head to the polls.

Wyoming election law needs to be updated; when it gets done, let’s make sure we do it the right way for the right reason, addressing the right problems.  

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Doug Gerard: Bouchard, Gray, Smith – Who Should Be The Conservative Candidate For Wyoming’s House Seat?

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By Doug Gerard, guest columnist

Liz Cheney needs to go.

In 2016 I feared she’d be a lousy fit for Wyoming, and I was right. Liz went against what most of Wyoming thought when she voted to impeach President Trump. While I’m glad Liz had the backbone to do what she felt was right, she was wrong, and it should cost her job.

At least six candidates are running or are considering throwing their hats in the ring: Marrisa Selvig, Everett Knapp, Ed Buchanan, Sen. Anthony Bouchard, Rep. Chuck Gray, and Darin Smith.

It will take six things to beat Rep. Cheney this next go-round:

  1. Not being Liz
  2. Living and being from Wyoming
  3. Name recognition
  4. Supporting the Republican Party platform
  5. Money
  6. Even more money

This rules out Marrisa Selvig and Everett Knapp by my calculations.

Marissa is a relative unknown. While there is time to get name recognition, I doubt Ms. Selvig will earn the name recognition and raise the $1.25 million needed to run an effective campaign against Rep. Cheney.

General Knapp, while originally from Wyoming, hasn’t lived here in 38 years. Wyoming has changed. I don’t see Wyoming getting rid of perceived carpet-bagger Liz Cheney in favor of someone who only last week moved back to Wyoming from California.

Ed Buchanan, our current Secretary of State, was a solid conservative Speaker of the House when he was in the legislature. Unfortunately, Secretary Buchanan hasn’t been as proactive as many Republicans would have liked to have seen, especially regarding elections.

That narrows the field down to a meaningful choice of three viable conservative candidates, Sen Anthony Bouchard, Rep. Chuck Gray, and Darin Smith.

I will support any of the three candidates in the general election as they will be the best choice again any Libertarian, independent, or Democrat that may toss their hat in the ring.

With that said, who is the best conservative candidate?

The three pillars of conservatism in Wyoming are Fiscal Responsibility, Pro-Life, and Gun-Rights. I like to think of myself as a fiscal conservative, a pro-life conservative, and a gun-rights conservative, in that order.

Bouchard and I share many of the same core beliefs. A significant difference for me is his huge focus on gun rights, almost to the exclusion of everything else conservative. I know Anthony supports the three pillars of conservativism, just not in the same order and emphasis I do. Additionally, Wyoming needs federal legislators in leadership positions to be the most effective for Wyoming. I am concerned Anthony’s focus on gun rights makes him unlikely to be a consensus builder needed to earn leadership positions in the US House.

In contrast, Chuck Gray shares my values in roughly the same order. While I am just a tiny voice in Wyoming conservatism, Chuck always has the time to have substantive discussions about conservative policies. He has always been willing to spend time and answer policy questions. Chuck has always been the epitome of Ronald Reagan’s “Happy Warrior.”

Much like Chuck Gray, Darin Smith holds the primary conservative virtues in roughly the same priority. His 2016 campaign against Liz Cheney was small, grassroots, and the most significant threat to Cheney in the 2016 election. Had Darin gotten an earlier start, he might have made the race competitive for Cheney. Darin wears his heart on his sleeve and tells you what he thinks and why. Much like Chuck Gray, he is one of Reagan’s Happy Warriors.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate the difference between Anthony, Chuck, and Darin is to share my first experience with each candidate.

Anthony Bouchard – In 2008, Obamacare was the day’s issue, and I started lobbying the Wyoming Legislature to get the Wyoming Health Care Freedom Act added to our constitution. It was a hard slog and built on the work of the Goldwater Institute out of Arizona. I was lucky enough to testify in front of the Senate Labor-Health and Social Services Committee in 2009, starting the process of getting the Health Care Freedom Amendment added to the Wyoming constitution.

It wasn’t until 2011 when the Wyoming Senate considered SJ-2 (Nutting) and SJ-3 (Scott) both taking different approaches to get the Health Care Freedom Act done. With Bouchard’s supporting Senator Nutting’s SJ-2, the Wyomingified version of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) suggested Health Care Freedom Amendment.

I was fully aware of ALEC’s language. While the ALEC version was laser-focused in its intent, SJ-2 didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it to the voters in Wyoming. It was too long, too complex, and unwieldy to make it to the voters.

I discussed with Anthony the work that went into SJ-3, why SJ-2 would fail, and why SJ-2 might cause the whole enterprise to fail, primarily because of its length and extreme complexity. SJ-2 was nearly six pages in length, roughly a third the size of the entire Wyoming Constitution. Anthony refused to listen to my concerns dismissing the objections out of hand.

As I predicted, SJ-2 nearly stopped Health Care Freedom Amendment from happening. In committee, the Senate Labor-Health and Social Service Committee did what it could to kill the bill entirely by combining SJ-2 and SJ-3 and moving the combined mess to the Committee of the Whole. If not for the last-minute work by Senator Drew Perkins and Rep. Tom Lubnau to wholly rewrite the Health Care Freedom Amendment, it would have failed. Comparing the text of the enrolled resolution SJ-2 to the proposed SJ-2 and SJ-3 text illustrates my original critique of the proposed SJ-2 as spot on.

Don’t get me wrong, Sen. Nutting and Sen. Bouchard were instrumental in getting the Healthcare Freedom Amendment on the ballot. In no small part, the volume of attention Anthony Bouchard brought to the issue’s importance was influential and helped get the issue on the ballot (and in the constitution). But Anthony’s insistence he knew best almost killed the bill, and that’s concerning. Knowing you’re right doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to other people and include some of their ideas to grow a consensus to get the job done.

Chuck Gray – In contrast, my first experience with Gray was different. True to his word and pro-life principles, Chuck brought his first pro-life bill in 2017 bill HB-182. I happened to be in Cheyenne for testimony on HB-182. It was the first significant pro-life legislation even to be heard by that committee in years. While I didn’t testify for the bill as others spoke as I would have, I watched it work through the committee. The bill got gutted as the committee removed the ultrasound requirement from the bill.

After the committee adjourned, I got to visit with Chuck for about fifteen minutes, lamenting what a tragedy it was for the bill to be gutted. Chuck, with his eternal optimism, disagreed with me, saying, “Yes, that wasn’t the best outcome, but a pro-life bill is going to the floor of the House for the first time in years, and that is a victory.”

He was right too. HB-182 became law and the building block for the evermore affirmative pro-life measure that reflects the beliefs of the vast majority of Wyomingites.

Darin Smith – I first met Darin in 2016 at the Wyoming GOP State Convention, where he announced he was running for US House. I had a long talk with Darin. Darin will engagingly talk with you for hours. Sometimes it’s hard to get him to stop as his enthusiasm and passion for the campaign are evident. I choose to support Darin as the other candidates (Tim Stubson, Leland Christensen) lacked a conservative record or didn’t have the resources to mount an effective state-wide campaign.

After our initial meeting, Darin got organized after a brief delay, but he gave it his all once he did. On a much more limited budget than Cheney, he was able to garner significant grassroots support. Toward the end of the campaign, he had over 100 volunteers make phone calls to voters on his behalf for three days straight. I’d never seen that before or since for any state-wide campaign for US House, US Senate, or Governor. I can’t help but wonder what’s possible with a properly organized and funded campaign.

Darin is an interesting character. A businessman trained as a lawyer, he’s worn many different hats working as an attorney, real estate developer, and a fundraiser for large Christian values-0based organizations. He is a charismatic fellow whose optimism is infectious. That helped in 2016 brought the unknown candidate to running neck and neck with well-known establishment politicians. If the 2016 race were a head-to-head, Cheney/Smith, Darin would have won.

Darin’s commitment to the conservative cause is superlative. While he was chair of the Laramie County GOP, he led another first-of-its-kind activist effort to get people to support legislation that fell in line with the Wyoming Republican Platform and resolution. He coordinated with the Wyoming State GOP to get people to testify on bills vital to the Republican Party. He was so effective the Frontier Republicans targeted him for removal, and in a close election, he lost to the wife of tax and spend liberal Republican Representative Olsen.

Now the tricky question, who should you support?

Anthony, Chuck, and Darin are good men trying to do what is best for Wyoming. In recognition of this, no matter who wins of these three, I will support whoever wins the primary.

Unfortunately, to do that, we need a single conservative candidate to beat Liz Cheney. I think Liz is very beatable, and she will still garner roughly 35% of the vote.

Which of the three conservatives candidates can do better than that?

From a policy perspective, I rank Gray and Smith as the best choice over Bouchard. Smith and Gray represent what I believe more accurately than does Bouchard.

On the fundraising front, I expect Smith to outdo Bouchard with Gray at a significant disadvantage to both.

This campaign will be a long, drawn-out campaign and a tough row for all the candidates to hoe. That said, you will be able to tell who wants it by who shows up at all the forums, debates, and Republican Party functions across the state. The first significant debate is this June 12th in Casper.

Working well with others is going to be necessary to Wyoming’s US Representative. It is essential to consider this in selecting a candidate to support. I think Gray and Smith are tied as the best choice in this regard.

Starting with Bouchard, put simply, I don’t think he can build coalitions to get him over the 35% threshold it will take to win the election. He is extraordinarily passionate and was the first to announce his candidacy—a great move on his part.

However, in five years of service in the Senate, he has never been a committee chairman. Wyoming needs a Representative that can lead other legislators to help Wyoming the most in the US House. If Anthony can’t build the support to be a chair in Wyoming, where we all know each other, how will he fare in the US House where he knows no one?

Next is Chuck Gray. I have long been a supporter of Chuck Gray and consider him a friend, but I’ve never worked on any campaign for him. Conservative ideals-wise, Chuck is a natural fit for me.

Chuck has been a conservative leader in the House that has shown an ability to work with others to accomplish traditional goals. This shouldn’t be underestimated. In recent years the House has been led by Speakers Steve Harshman and Eric Barlow, both of whom are barely distinguishable from the average Democrat. The number of legislators that are supporting Chuck is also a good sign.

Unfortunately for Chuck, he is at a considerable disadvantage in fundraising when compared to Bouchard and Smith. While his name is well known in conservative circles and Natrona County, I worry about him being able to mount an effective campaign to reach the needed 35%, especially with two other conservatives in the race. That said, if the race were simply Gray/Cheney, Gray would win.

That leaves us with Smith. While he doesn’t have legislative experience, he does have significant leadership experience. He has shown an ability to mount an effective grassroots campaign state-wide and will outdo Bouchard in fundraising. Darin has the potential to challenge Cheney’s fundraising numbers with folks like Foster Friess in his corner. He also has a record of working for conservative Republican values.

Since I worked for his 2016 candidacy, Darin Smith and I have become friends, although we occasionally disagree on the right way forward. The 2018 governor’s race is the best example where I supported Harriet Hageman, and he endorsed Friess.

For me, in order, my ranking of the conservative candidates is (1) Darin Smith; (2) Chuck Gray; (3) Anthony Bouchard.

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Doug Gerard: Whatever Happened To Cowboying Up?

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By Doug Gerard, guest columnist

This past election was a bountiful one for conservatives throughout Wyoming, especially in Campbell County. 

In my estimation, there are roughly 32 conservatives in the Wyoming Legislature split between the House and Senate.  Those 32 conservatives, Republicans all, represent the largest conservative class of legislators in the last fifteen years.

Unfortunately,  liberals (Democrat and Republican) have control of the leadership in the House.  That doesn’t bode well for Wyoming.  I predict regular joes and small businesses will pay the bill for that liberal control. 

With Governor Mark Gordon’s support, I expect our legislature will establish new taxes, more spending, and fewer structural cuts than would otherwise be suitable for the challenges facing Wyoming.

Worse still is the way our legislative House leadership wants to accomplish their liberal anti-Republican agenda.  There are plans afoot not to have the legislature meet as usual this January. 

Using COVID as the excuse, House leadership wants to split the 2021 General Session into two parts, twelve days of an online session and the balance to be held later on at an unspecified time, in an undetermined manner. 

Online meetings limit the discourse that legislators can have.  Most adversely affected will be new legislators who are learning the rules of their chamber. 

The returning moderate and liberal solons have their long-standing networks.  Newly organized conservatives, especially the nascent conservative Freedom Caucus, start from scratch as the lion’s share of conservatives are freshly elected. 

Ultimately veteran legislators, the majority of whom are liberals (Democrat and Republican), will have a decided advantage in online meetings. 

Keep in mind that the moderates and liberals of both the Democrat and Republican parties under the leadership of Steve Harshman and Eric Barlow got Wyoming into this mess.   

Certainly, COVID is a danger, as the tragic death of my friend Rep. Roy Edwards highlights.  However, other state legislatures, especially South Dakota, are meeting as usual.  Why can’t Wyoming? 

What can Wyoming do to hold the General Session as normal?

First off, reserve enough vaccinations for the legislators and legislative staff that wish to be vaccinated. Second, the state should provide N95 masks, face shields, latex gloves, and hand-sanitizers for all staff and legislators to use at their discretion.  

Wyoming is in a world of pain right now and needs our elected officials to lead us out of the darkness.  That can only happen if they meet as usual for this session.  We don’t need them cowering in their homes.

Whatever happened to cowboying up, doing what needs doing?

Please, contact your legislators and Speaker of the House, Eric Barlow (307.682.9639).  Please ask them to meet as expected.  Please do it for Wyoming; the job you save may be your own.

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Doug Gerard: WY Board Of Medicine Has Done Blatant COVID Overreach

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By Doug Gerard, guest columnist

I’m deeply disturbed about a proclamation made in March By the Wyoming Board of Medicine.

I’m dismayed Governor Gordon, or his Attorney General for that matter, haven’t acted to correct the Wyoming Board of Medicine’s blatant overreach. After all, Governor Gordon swore in his oath of office to support, defend, and “obey” the Constitutions of the United States and Wyoming.

To put things in perspective, let’s start with the Wyoming Constitution and what it says about you and your health care:

ARTICLE 2 Sec. 38. Right of health care access.
(a) Each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions. The parent, guardian or legal representative of any other natural person shall have the right to make health care decisions for that person.
(b) Any person may pay, and a health care provider may accept, direct payment for health care without imposition of penalties or fines for doing so.
(c) The legislature may determine reasonable and necessary restrictions on the rights granted under this section to protect the health and general welfare of the people or to accomplish the other purposes set forth in the Wyoming Constitution.
(d) The state of Wyoming shall act to preserve these rights from undue governmental infringement.

Pretty straight forward, right?

It says that you have the right to make the health care decisions you want and that the legislature may place limits on barbaric practices that try to find cover under the aegis of healthcare (e.g., abortion). Most importantly, the state is charged with ensuring that our right to the healthcare we want is protected.

This part of the Wyoming Constitution is quite dear to me. Way back in 2008, I started work to make Wyoming’s Healthcare Freedom Amendment a reality. After many twists and turns, the amendment finally made it through the legislature in the 2011 General Session. In 2012 voters had their say, and it passed overwhelmingly, with 77% of Wyoming voters for the measure.

The day after the election, I got an email from then-Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau, reading, “Congratulations, you’re the grandfather of a constitutional amendment.” It is the best email I ever received, three years of work paid off.

Now fast forward to March 2020, the age of COVID and the hydroxychloroquine controversy.

From my layman’s perspective, the science of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine effectiveness is muddled. While some studies and anecdotal evidence say the malaria drugs help, others say the drugs are ineffective. The scientific consensus is that, in general, the medications don’t provide any benefit for the treatment of COVID-19. With that said there remain a number of outspoken physicians that say the drugs help, and they proscribe them for their patients.

In March of 2020, the Wyoming Board of Medicine decided it knows what’s best for you and your healthcare. The Board issued a proclamation saying it will aggressively pursue and discipline any healthcare professional operating outside the ever-changing “standard of care.” The declaration explicitly threatens those that would or have prescribed chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in response to COVID-19.

This is unconstitutional. ARTICLE 2 Sec. 38 of the Wyoming Constitution is clear. You and your doctor get to decide the healthcare you want and receive, subject to the limitations set by the legislature. If you and your physician agree a medication, procedure, or other treatment would be of benefit to you, you have the right to that treatment.

Where is Governor Gordon? Where is the Attorney General? They are two of the top officials in the state. The Wyoming Constitution requires them to protect our right to health care we decide we need. Why have they let this stand?

I recognize that the Board of Medicine plays a vital role in ensuring Wyoming doctors have the proper training to earn and keep a license. The Board of Medicine is also there when things go wrong. The Board is responsible for adjudicating complaints against physicians, potentially ending their career and life’s work with revocation of their license to practice.

That said, the Board of Medicine doesn’t have the right to tell my dually licensed physician and me what healthcare I can and cannot have. This is especially true when the patient and doctor agree on treatment that is non-standard. The only institution that may place restrictions on my healthcare is the Wyoming State Legislature. It’s right there in the Wyoming Constitution.

Jump to July 2020; I get COVID. It’s personal now!

In eight days, I lost thirty pounds, was in zombie mode sleeping 20 hours days. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink enough fluids. Eventually, I ended up in the emergency room. In the ER, I received IV fluids and a prescription for a course of high dose steroids.

I was convinced that I was on a downward spiral and was concerned I might have an extended severe bout with COVID. I am confident the steroids stopped the disease progression in its tracks and put me on the road to recovery.

Just two days before my ER visit, a study was released indicating high dose steroids effectively treat COVID. Before that, steroids for COVID treatment were thought to be ineffective and potentially harmful.

It got me thinking: What if that study never happened? What if something delayed the research? How would this have affected me? Would I have gotten the steroids prescribed? Would I have recovered?

Given the Board of Medicine stance on COVID treatment, I can’t help but ask if that study hadn’t come out, would my physician have risked his license to prescribe steroids for me?

According to a physician I trust, the steroids were the medically logical action to take, even without the study to back it up. Even so, given the threat against physicians’ livelihood from the Board of Medicine, would a physician take the risk and act outside the ever-changing “standard of care” on COVID treatment?

From my view and experience, the March decree of the Board of Medicine is patently unconstitutional and, without doubt, hindering Wyoming residents’ healthcare.

The State of Wyoming, led by Governor Gordon with his Attorney General’s aid, need to step up and reverse the Board of Medicine’s unconstitutional action,

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Doug Gerard: Why Would Matt Micheli “Turn All Hillary” On Us

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By Doug Gerard, guest columnist

I’d never thought I’d see the day when a former Wyoming Republican Chairman would act more like Hillary Clinton than Ronald Reagan, but here we are.

Matt Micheli’s recent peddling of his ‘alt-right’ and the Wyoming GOP conspiracy theory echoes Hilary Clinton bemoaning the vast-right-wing-conspiracy working against her at every turn. Despite his track record as a fiscal and social conservative, Micheli’s claims are hogwash.  

No matter how many times Mr. Micheli or others make claims to the contrary, today’s Wyoming Republican Party is the same as it ever has been.

Need proof? Here are the platforms from 20202018201620142012, and 2010. You’ll notice while there may be changes to the phrasing, Wyoming Republicans maintain their conservative message of individual liberty, fiscal responsibility, family, and country.  

So, what’s changed?  

In a nutshell, fresh leadership, a groundswell from the grassroots, and the notion that officials elected as Republicans should vote like Republicans.

And what caused the change?

Its roots go back to 2014 when the Republican Party stood up for its conservative principles and brought Governor Matt Mead to a censure vote.  

Governor Mead’s conduct and handling of Senate File 104 was the source of much concern in the state. While Governor Mead narrowly escaped censure, it sent an important message: the Wyoming GOP would hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

Since then, across the state, county parties are electing county chairs, state-committee women, and men that stand up for Republican principles, forthrightly asking elected Republicans to support the Republican Platform according to the Reagan Rule. While there are exceptions, many Wyoming Republicans no longer support liberal legislators because they put an ‘R’ after their name.

Interestingly, during Chairman Micheli’s tenure, the state party first denied funding to Republican candidates because they did not toe the Republican Platform line. 

The idea that elected Republicans support 80 percent of the Republican Platform (the Reagan Rule) is resurgent at the grassroots level. Unsurprisingly liberal Republicans hate the idea. It’s what gave birth to the Frontier Republicans. They don’t want to be held accountable to the Republican Platform. They want to use the ‘R’ to gain victory and then behave as they please.    

This year 2020 has shown that the division between Liberal-Republicans and run of the mill Republicans is at an all-time high. Despite claims to the contrary, Frontier Republicans and their fellow travelers are stoking that divide.  

Despite calls for civility in politics, the liberal Republicans have done their best to sabotage the Wyoming Republican Party. For example, Frontier Republicans and their assorted minions have:

  • At their opening meeting called for civility and then immediately called those they disagree with ‘cockroaches.’
  • Supported the campaigns of Democrats
  • Boycotted fundraisers for the Wyoming Republican party
  • Held a fundraiser for Frontier Republicans while the Wyoming Republican Party honored the Wyoming congressional delegation.
  • Stormed out of the state convention after losing several votes by decisive two-thirds majorities. 

There is more, of course, but you get the idea. It’s as if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a teach-in with the Frontier Republicans to show them how to attack the Republican base.

Matt Micheli and his new liberal friends claim conservatives never offer solutions. It simply isn’t true! As a one-time conservative ally, Micheli knows better.

For example, the Republicans from Campbell County, who won stunning and decisive primary victories, already have offered a Contract with Campbell County detailing what they want to do in the next legislative session. Other Republicans fresh from primary victories are looking at different ideas focused on spending less and protecting Wyoming citizens from new taxes.  

Liberals don’t like it and, like liberals nationwide, blame conservative Republicans for everything.  

No matter how you slice it, Wyoming Republicans have always been conservative. Thanks to a groundswell from the grassroots, the Wyoming Republican Party is pushing back against the ultra-liberal, high tax, job-killing ideas, from Democrats or Republicans.  

It is sad to see Matt turn all Hillary on us. 

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