2018 Governor’s Primary is Going to Be a Doozy

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2018 Governor’s Primary is Going to Be a Doozy

My, how things can change on the statewide political scene over a few months.

The Wyoming governor race in 2018 may end up being the most interesting race in the state’s history. I hope people are paying attention. Not sure we will ever see the like of this circus again.

Throughout 2017, it looked like a two-man race between State Treasurer Mark Gordon and Secretary of State Ed Murray was going to provide the most interest. But then Murray resigned because of decades-old allegations of impropriety, leaving Gordon looking like the last man standing.

But not so fast.

Two archconservatives Harriet Hageman, Cheyenne, and Taylor Haynes, Laramie, have been working hard. Hageman, especially, has built a tremendous campaign and it’s not impossible to see her winning the whole thing.

With Murray’s departure, Cheyenne’s Sam Galeotos has come forward as the “business” candidate. He has solid people working with him. Rumor has it that he may have a war chest over $1 million ready to spend on the effort. Former U. S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis is co-chairing his campaign along with Matt Micheli.

Galeotos told me he realizes he is new to statewide voters but his family has a long history in Wyoming. He has a record as an entrepreneur, which he is touting during this campaign.

Hageman told me last week that she anticipates spending a million dollars. She is a tireless worker and enjoyed a terrific reception at the recent Republican state convention in Laramie.

Meanwhile the first guy in the race, Bill Dahlin, of Sheridan is still out there shaking hands.

So if the above were all that is going on, we would have one of the most interesting races ever featuring five busy candidates.

But hold on, Foster Friess, 78, of Jackson announced at that convention that he is running, too.

Billionaire Friess could be a real wild card. He has the ability to self-fund a campaign. He is much better known that most observers realize. Friess is known across the country. During May, he was on Fox News, Fox Business, and MSNBC cable channels.

In Wyoming, to win the Republican primary, you usually need to present yourself as really conservative. Friess touts conservative values but he is more well rounded than most of the candidates.

Friess could launch a Donald Trump-style campaign. He does not need to raise money and he can use his private jet to crisscross the state in a hurry.

I have known Foster for a long time and he is a good, responsible citizen, as is his wife Lynn. Lynn knows the state well, having served on the Wyoming Business Council.

But I am not sure just being a wonderful person can get you elected governor. Friess, an innovator, sure offers the possibility of stirring things up.

So, based on the input that I am getting from my statewide network of Wyoming-Watchers, it looks like Gordon has a slight lead over Hageman. Taylor Haynes is in there somewhere but as Galeotos gets better known, I see him moving up for right now. With Lummis in his corner, Galeotos should have considerable firepower going forward.

Until Friess starts spending and campaigning, he is in the middle of the pack somewhere.

As a political watcher I can guarantee to all these candidates that 16 weeks is a tiny period of time and it will pass quickly. They have to be possessive of their time and their money as the Aug. 21 primary finish line is barreling down on them.

So what should Gordon be doing to maintain his lead over the rest of the campaign?

He has already run two statewide campaigns and spent a lot of money in each. He has Gale Geringer running this campaign, which means it is well-connected and should be in all the right places at the right times. I predicted three weeks ago that this race is Gordon’s to lose and that assessment is still correct.

But the numbers are just nuts.

There are 575,000 people in Wyoming. But just 105,950 Republicans voted in that hotly contested August 2010, primary, which Mead won with 30,300 votes.

If you do the math, it is possible that the winner could again get as few as 30,300 votes and still move on to the general election, where he or she would face the credible Mary Throne, the Democratic candidate.

Folks, watching this campaign is way better than the best TV show you have ever experienced. Stay tuned.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books. His coffee table book series has sold 30,000 copies. You can find them at www.wyomingwonders.com.


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