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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

WY-Sen: GOP Presents Freudenthal 3 Choices

Late Tuesday, the Wyoming Republican Party decided on their final three choices to replace the late Sen. Craig Thomas. They whittled the field from 71 Republican applicants (that's quite a few considering WY is the nation's least populous state!) during a day-long party committee meeting.

Under Wyoming law, Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal must name a Republican to the vacancy - unlike in most other states where the Governor has the freedom to choose a replacement from any party. Not surprisingly, each candidate is conservative, according to local media - and the GOP committee members who decided on the Final Three - Tom Sansonetti, John Barasso and Cynthia Lummis.

Freudenthal has five days to make his choice - and the newly-appointed Senator will serve until the next regularly scheduled election (November 2008). The Casper Star Tribune provides further details:

"The final three will not lobby the governor as they did the central committee members," Sansonetti said.
"It's the governor's choice," Sansonetti said at a press conference after the meeting adjourned."I expect the governor to ask me how I would perform," he said.
While they share the same core values, Lummis said no one understands health care as much as Barrasso, no one has the federal experience like Sansonetti, and she has extensive experience as a legislator and treasurer.
Lummis acknowledged she and Freudenthal did not get along well during his first term, but she believes he will be fair in his choice.

This means Wyoming voters will be voting in two Senate races in 2008 as well as the At-Large Congressional seat. Rep. Barbara Cubin came close to losing her seat in 2006 - the result of some serious campaign stumble. She eked out a victory over Gary Trauner, who is running again in 2008. (WY-At Large wiki) Considering her husband has health problems, it remains an open question as to whether she will run for re-election. If she steps down, Trauner's challenge becomes more difficult.

Wyoming - along with Idaho and Utah - is one of the three most Republican states in the country and the chances of a Democratic win in any of these races is a longshot, particularly in a presidential election year. Sen. Mike Enzi is a virtual "lock" to win re-election. But, if Freudenthal were to run against the candidate he selects this week, it could be a long-shot opportunity for WY Democrats.

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