The Wild, Wild 2018 Race for Governor is Already Starting to Heat Up in State

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The Wild, Wild 2018 Race for Governor is Already Starting to Heat Up in State

Who will be running for Wyoming Governor in 2018 and who will win? Seems premature to be thinking of this in August of 2017, but that is what we political observers like to do.

I think two important aspects are going to dominate this campaign:

First, candidates will need to get out early and line up their supporters across the state.

Second, this baby will be the most expensive governor campaign in Wyoming history.

All the fun and all the action in this race is on the Republican side. We have two deep-pocketed candidates already lining up and they both know a lot about Wyoming state government. I am talking about State Treasurer Mark Gordon and Secretary of State Ed Murray.

Both men have a huge desire to further serve the people of Wyoming. And the way they both can imagine to best serve the state is to be the governor.

There are other possible candidates like Matt Micheli, Taylor Haynes and Darin Smith of Cheyenne. Bill Dahlin of Sheridan has already announced.

But the early betting and handicapping will be on Murray and Gordon.

So where is former U. S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis in all this? She was lining up supporters earlier this year and looked like a shoo-in to me. I am not sure in the history of Wyoming a candidate could run who would have been better prepared than Cynthia.

But no go. She let her supporters know three weeks ago that she was not going to run, after all.

Political observer Larry Wolfe of Cheyenne has some thoughts on the race:

“Since Cynthia is out we might see Leland Christensen, Tim Stubson, Ogden Driscoll, Tyler Lindholm and Larry Hicks. Even Jillian Balow and Kari Jo Gray,” he says. “What about Eli Bebout, Steve Harshman, or Drew Perkins? Dave Kinsky? Ray Peterson?

“Someone like Albert Sommers, who is in the thick of the education debate, might come to the governor’s race.

“Of course the other interesting speculation is for the other four offices. If Murray and Gordon run, their seats are up. Is Cynthia Cloud running again? Jillian Balow may decide to take a Diana Ohman jump to Secretary of State. There will be lots of candidates for these lesser offices. Mary Throne might consider State or Treasurer.

“On a personal note, President Donald Trump has turned me into a Democrat although I am still a registered R!”

Speaking of Democrats, Ryan Greene, Throne and Chris Rothfuss could all be worthy candidates for governor from that side of the aisle.

Now I know something about running for governor, although most of my experience is pretty dated. It was 2002, some 15 years ago, that I ran a rather decent campaign with disappointing results.

But there are things I learned, and I will share them today.

First, in Wyoming all the action is in the primary. It is virtually impossible today for a Democrat to win the general. Thus, GOP candidates need to get out early and often. What is crazy is that nobody but us pundits is interested in the race until June of next year. But you still need to get out there and press the flesh.

Second, the campaign schedule can seem to be rigged. The primary is in late August so nobody is paying attention to your ads when they count the most. This fact, alone, will drive the treasurers of most campaigns up a wall as hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in those last critical weeks. The primary date favors those candidates who have been working for years cultivating those Republican primary voters.

Third, by May 2018, you lose control of your campaign. There are so many conventions, parades, fairs and programs; you go crazy in the last 13 weeks just trying to be at all the events. It is hard to draw a crowd so you have to go where the crowds are. All this drives your campaign chairman batty as he or she tries to keep focused on what is happening.

Fourth, it will be the greatest experience of your life. You have no idea how big Wyoming really is until you have a campaign event in Evanston at noon and one in Gillette that evening. I had my own airplane and it was nearly impossible to get to everything.

So there you have it. The campaign season is upon us and we have a year to go before that all-important August 2018 primary.

Stay tuned.

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