GOP has huge money margin over Dems; primary is Tuesday

Aug 17, 2012 The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Wyoming Democrats are going into Tuesday's primary election a bit short on cash.

Incumbent Wyoming Republicans Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis have raised nearly $4 million between the two of them for their re-election campaigns so far, according to Federal Elections Commission records.

Meanwhile, the two Democrats perhaps most likely to face Barrasso and Lummis in November's general election said Thursday that they've raised about $17,000 collectively.

Wyoming Democratic Party officials concede that they're trying to rebuild following the shellacking they received in the 2010 general election. When the dust settled on that blowout, the GOP emerged holding all three of the state's congressional seats, every statewide political office, and overwhelming majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

Democrat Chris Henrichsen, a political science instructor at Casper College, is unopposed in seeking his party's nomination to run against Lummis in November. It's his first run for public office.

Henrichsen said Thursday that he's raised and spent about $16,000 in the race so far. He said he's drawn support from fellow Democrats at the county level as he's campaigned around Wyoming in recent months in his personal car. However, he said the National Democratic Party is ignoring his race and there's not much of a state party organization left to help either.

Henrichsen turned to Twitter on Tuesday night to voice his dissatisfaction with the state party. He called for new leadership following a recent fundraiser in Jackson to benefit out-of-state candidates including Montana Sen. Jon Tester, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Rep. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

Henrichsen and Colorado congressional candidate Sal Pace were introduced at the event by Wyoming Democratic Party Treasurer Leslie Petersen, who said they were hoping to get some "crumbs" leftover after donors took care of the other candidates. She later acknowledged the comment, but said she said it jokingly.

Henrichsen said Thursday he welcomes the freedom that lack of party support gives him.

"When people say, 'What about (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi, what about the leadership? When you get elected, what are they going to tell you to do?' I tell them all the time, 'Nancy Pelosi doesn't talk to me now, and when I'm in Congress it's not going to matter what she tells me either.'"

Three Democrats are facing off for their party's nomination to run for Senate: Albany County Commissioner Tim Chesnut, perennially unsuccessful candidate Al Hamburg of Torrington, and William Bryk, a New Yorker apparently filing long-distance in far-flung Wyoming on a lark.

Chesnut said Thursday he has raised a little over $800 in the race and spent more than $300. He said he intends to start traveling around the state after the primary election.

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