Top of the ballot looks good for GOP

Nov 6, 2012 Staff and wire reports

Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis apparently hold all the cards in their respective races on Election Day.

Barrasso and Lummis raised far more money than their Democratic challengers, who are both newcomers to congressional races. Barrasso and Lummis also stand to benefit from voter registration numbers showing Republicans outnumbering Democrats better than three-to-one in Wyoming.

In the Senate race, the Democratic challenger is Albany County Commissioner Tim Chesnut. In the House contest, the challenger is Chris Henrichsen, a political science instructor at Casper College. Both ran shoestring campaigns in which they emphasized they want to represent Wyoming's working families.

Barrasso raised $7.4 million, according to federal campaign reports, while Chesnut didn't raise more than the $5,000.

That ballot has a Fremont County flavor. Joel Otto of Lander is the nominee for the tiny Country Party.

Lummis raised more than $500,000, while Henrichsen was below the $5,000 level needed even to submit a report.

Barrasso is a leading critic of the federal Affordable Care Act. Before heading to Washington, he was a Casper surgeon well-known for dispensing health advice on a local evening news program. He also served in the state senate.

Lummis is seeking her third term in Wyoming's sole seat in Congress. She has served as state treasurer and in the state Legislature.

Nearly two-thirds of the candidates for the Wyoming Legislature are unopposed in Tuesday's election. Statewide, 48 candidates for 75 seats in the state House and Senate have no opponents. That's 64 percent of the total.

In most races, the reason is because no Democrat is running.

Fremont County is an exception to that trend. Four of the five contested races affecting Fremont County representation have Republican-Democrat contests. And one of the Democratic incumbents, Patrick Goggles, represents a Fremont County District (HD33).

Wyoming Democrats are trying to improve their showing, but it's a long-term project, party spokesman Brodie Farquhar said. The party is focusing on getting potential candidates some experience in city, county and school board offices, he said.

The nonpartisan Wyoming Women's Foundation is trying to encourage more women to run for office.

The foundation released a report Friday saying 30 percent of the candidates statewide for city, county and legislative positions are women.

The foundation is offering leadership courses and mentoring opportunities for women, regardless of party.

"A big part of it is just raising awareness," said Rebekah Smith, the foundation's program director. "We want them to stand up and say, 'I can do this' and to help them realize there is no reason why they shouldn't run."

No matter what happens Tuesday, Republicans are assured of keeping control of both the Wyoming House and Senate. They now hold 50 of 60 House seats and 24 of 30 Senate seats. All 60 House seats and half of the 30 Senate seats are up for election. Wyoming representatives serve two-year terms and state senators serve for four years.

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