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November 15, 2012 9:06 am

The Amend Corner: Thoughts regarding the election

Written by Don Amend

Living in Park County among a hoard of Republicans long ago convinced me that I was living in one of the most, if not the most, conservative counties in Wyoming.



Well, according to last week’s election results, I was right, but just barely. More than 80 percent of the voters in 10 of the state’s 23 counties voted for Mitt Romney last week, but Park County fell short. It seems that 21 percent of Park County voters went against the crowd and cast votes for Barack Obama. That tied our county with Washakie County for 11th and 12th place with 79 percent for Romney. That puts us right in the middle. If you listed all the counties in the order of their vote for Romney, PC would be the median — at least I think so, my knowledge of such statistical niceties dates from classes in 1965, so it’s a bit rusty.

Now, admittedly, that doesn’t make PC liberal. That’s reserved for Teton, which went 56 percent for Obama, and maybe Albany, where only 51 percent went for Romney. Still, it’s way behind the northeastern counties. Crook led with 88 percent and Weston was close behind with 87 percent. These are small counties, so their total Romney vote was less than the population of Powell and didn’t contribute significantly to his total state vote. Campbell’s 87 percent for Romney, though, gave him more votes than Park County’s total for both candidates.

So, what does all this mean? Well, not much, really, just that there are more people who think like me in Park County than I thought.

And there’s one more thing. Our neighbor county, Big Horn, gave 83 percent of its vote to Romney, and that has important implications. Park County Republicans will have to avoid telling Niner jokes for the next four years, since Niners can say that they have smarter voters than Park County does.

Dems, of course, may still tell Niner jokes, but we Park County Democrats are too nice to do that.

Teton County’s vote meant Wyoming didn’t join Utah, Oklahoma and West Virginia, as states where every county voted Republican. By contrast, four states — Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Hawaii — were all blue. That leaves 43 states that are some shade of purple, even good old Republican Wyoming.

Speaking of Republican Wyoming, I repeat my long-standing belief that Wyoming is harmed politically by its slavish devotion to the Republican Party, and a recent action by the Congress, capping the amount of money the state receives from Abandoned Mines Reclamation Fund, confirms my belief.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis, quite predictably, blamed Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus for the action, which could cost Wyoming $700 million over the next 10 years, but the action was in the budget offered by none other than Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan in the House of Representatives, and Lummis herself voted for that proposed budget. Well, our Congressional delegation is trying to spin the issue, but in fact, cutting spending is what the Republican-controlled House is all about these days, and those cuts have to come from somewhere.

Now, last week’s election wasn’t close, but the Republicans really wanted to gain control of the Senate, so just suppose that Sen. John Barrasso was facing a close challenge from a stronger Democratic Party in Wyoming. Do you think Rep. Ryan would have thought a bit harder about taking $700 million away from Wyoming in that circumstance? I suspect if Sen. Barrasso had been in trouble, Rep. Ryan might have looked a bit more carefully at what he was proposing, and President Obama, that notable spendthrift, might have applied a bit of pressure on Wyoming’s behalf as well in an effort to help the Democratic candidate.

A few years ago, while covering an event out at the UW farm, I heard former Rep. Barbara Cubin complain that it was ridiculous that a Republican state like Wyoming had to sue the Republican Bush administration over wolf policy in the Yellowstone National Park region. Well, she was right, but things like that happen because, nationally, Republicans don’t have to do anything for Wyoming because they know we’ll continue to send good Republicans back to Congress. For the same reason, Democrats gain no advantage by considering Wyoming’s needs, because they can’t win here, and winning, after all, is the principal goal of political parties.

Two final election-related thoughts:

I learned a long time ago that it wasn’t wise to gloat when you win, either  in politics and life, because there’s always another contest coming up, and things will be different. As I told an acquaintance when he asked if I was happy about the huge Democratic gains in 2006 that gave them control of the Congress: “Well, Democrats are just as likely to mess things up as Republicans. I’ll just wait and see.”

Still, I can’t resist getting in one little dig.

In 2010, Conservative talk specialist Rush Limbaugh indicated he would go to Costa Rica if President Obama’s health care bill went through. He backed out when it did, but now that the president has been re-elected, I wonder if Mr. Limbaugh will make good on his promise.

We can only hope.

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