Sunday, January 06, 2008

Wyoming, Shwyoming

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Pity poor Wyoming. With all the attention on Iowa and New Hampshire, Dick Cheney's homestate has been neglected into oblivion. But did you know that the Wyoming GOP broke the rules and held its caucuses, even selecting convention delegates? And did you know that it was a rousing triumph for some guy named Romney?

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who is locked in an intense primary battle in New Hampshire, captured the majority of Wyoming’s delegates to the Republican National Convention as the state’s Republicans met at county conventions.

Mr. Romney won eight delegates, former Senator Fred D. Thompson of Tennessee won three, and Representative Duncan Hunter of California won one.

Josh Romney, a son of Mr. Romney, whose organizational efforts here outstripped his rivals’, told reporters: “It was a great day. It shows we are running all over the country.”

Wyoming Republicans were almost as exultant. Tom Sansonetti, a member of the Rules Committee of the Republican National Committee and a lawyer from Cheyenne, said at a news conference: “This is a very historic day for the Wyoming Republican Party. Iowa has the first caucus. New Hampshire has the first primary. But it’s Wyoming that elected the first delegates.”

Yes, yes, I'm sure it was "a great day" for Romney, "a very historic day" for the renegade Wyoming GOP. But let's cut through the bullshit, shall we?

Romney campaigned extravagantly, spent wildly, and essentially ran unopposed. (And, yes, I include Freddy T. as one who did not seriously oppose Romney. Given what a pathetic candidate he has been, and how pathetic his campaign has been, the phony Mr. Law & Order was hardly able to put up much of a fight even in such a right-wing frontier state.) Huckabee, Giuliani, and McCain, Romney's three main rivals, avoided the state, or at least didn't bother to campaign aggressively. Romney is hoping to capture the nomination by spending his way to the top in the early primary and caucus states, and to mobilize voters with extensive ground campaigns. It seems that Wyoming was no exception.

And yet one can understand why his rivals stayed away, and not just because Wyoming may not be a desirable place to go door-to-door in the middle of winter. Giuliani is far too liberal, McCain doesn't have enough money to campaign everywhere, and Huckabee is a surging candidate of the theocratic right who has built his campaign around Iowa, which he won running away, and a broad appeal to social conservatives. (Romney, of course, is making a similar appeal as a Mormon, but Huckabee is the evangelical conservative in the race, a distinction that makes all the difference.) All three have their targets, their keys to success. Rightly or wrongly, Wyoming just isn't important enough. (I am surprised, however, that the well-funded Ron Paul, whose radical anti-government libertarian platform would seem to be tailor-made for a state like Wyoming, didn't come away with any delegates.)

What's more: "By violating the dates allowed by the national party, Wyoming Republicans forfeited half of the state’s normal 28 delegates. The final two delegates will be elected at the state convention in May." In the end, what was the point of wasting valuable resources, time and money, on a share of 14 delegates?

Unless, at a contentious convention with no clear winner, Romney squeaks into the nomination. In that case, a possibility, Wyoming and other neglected states could turn out to have been the keys to success, the wild and extravagant Romney rewarded for running everywhere, even in the middle of winter.

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  • Hi Michael. Good post, and timely.
    This is your lucky day because I was born and raised in Wyoming, though I haven't lived there for 40 years. I'd like to just add some information that may augment what you've written.
    Wyoming is a truly Western state. It has always been a bit purple. They elected a Democrat governor the last time. There are a fair number of Mormons living in Wyoming. Not as big a bunch of Evangelicals live in the state as live in the Colorado Springs area. Jackson Hole is now the home of many very wealthy people. Their service work is done by a relatively significant number of Hispanic folks who can't afford to live in Wyoming. They commute from Idaho to Jackson when the road over the pass is plowed, and you can bet it mostly always is.
    My parents were Republicans, but more conservative than evangelical-- kind of like former Senator Alan Simpson. Veep Cheney is some kind of an abberation.
    I have always been a liberal Democrat as are my two sisters. Wyoming is the Women's Suffrage state. Women ranchers can be tough and either Democrat or Republican. The conservation movement is healthy there. Mineral fees pay for all the kids' schooling.
    There are fewer people in the entire state than live here in our metropolitan area. But they're mostly fairly independent, and well-informed about government.
    The Democrats will do their delegate thing in March.

    By Blogger Carol Gee, at 6:24 PM  

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