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Commission contests highlight local ballot

Aug 16, 2016 Staff and wire reports

Primary election voters in Fremont Country were choosing nominees for three county commission seats Tuesday, along with some contested Wyoming House races and several town and city council slots.

Polls opened at 7 p.m. Tuesday and remain open through 7 p.m.

Statewide, Wyoming's lone seat in the U.S. House is up for grabs in Tuesday's primary.

Liz Cheney is the best-funded candidate in the Republican field, bringing in more than $1.5 million through July.

Weeks before the primary, Cheney had almost 10 times more money than her next three opponents combined.

And Cheney, of course, also has top name recognition. She's the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and has used her contacts to raise money from prominent Republicans nationwide.

Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in Wyoming more than 3 to 1, so the eight-way GOP primary likely will prove the most important vote in determining who will fill the state's U.S. House seat.

As of Aug. 1, there were roughly 143,000 GOP voters registered compared to some 42,000 Democrats, according to the state Bureau of Elections.

Tuesday's results will show whether Liz Cheney has rebounded from her first, unsuccessful congressional run.

In the last election cycle, Cheney mounted an audacious challenge to incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi. Many prominent Wyoming Republicans accused her of being a "carpetbagger" for running against the state's senior senator when she had only recently moved to Wyoming from Virginia. She quickly dropped out of the race.

Now more seasoned, Cheney is undertaking the considerably less daunting task of running for an open seat. Republican U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis is not seeking re-election this year after serving four terms.

Cheney is emphasizing in her current campaign that she wants to represent Wyoming to fight against Washington overreach, particularly against federal regulation of the state's sagging coal industry. And echoing her father's criticism, she's been vocal in attacking President Barack Obama for actions she says have undermined national security.

Liz Cheney's opponents, meanwhile, have emphasized that she, a former Fox News commentator and State Department official, has comparatively shallow roots in Wyoming.

Those opponents include:

- State Sen. Leland Christensen, of Alta, a former sheriff, county commissioner and U.S. Army special operations forces soldier.

- State Rep. Tim Stubson, a Casper attorney.

- Cheyenne attorney Darin Smith, a Christian Broadcasting Network executive.

The Democratic Party primary contest sees Charlie Hardy, a retired Roman Catholic priest, facing Ryan Greene, an oilfield services executive from Rock Springs.

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