EDITORIAL: Lessons we learned from Election Day

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There have been more exciting Election Days in Wyoming. Most, in fact.

But Tuesday’s results, while not filled with surprises, still are worth a longer look. We will see an impact after all the votes are counted.

Gov. Matt Mead concluded a sweep of four contests he has entered, with only the first in serious doubt. Mead won in a crowded Republican primary in 2010 and then walked into office that fall in a landslide win.

After a largely successful first term, he faced a pair of GOP challengers in this summer’s primary, but neither State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill nor doctor/businessman/rancher Taylor Haynes was able to convince most members of their party to switch horses.

On Tuesday, Mead eased past Democratic candidate Pete Gosar, who waged a spirited campaign. We feel Gosar, a young, energetic candidate, could prove to be an effective leader for his party in the future.

For some reason not clear to us, Haynes went back on a pledge he made not to run in November and mounted a late, futile write-in campaign. Libertarian Dee Cozzens and independent Don Wills barely registered in the minds of most voters.

Sen. Mike Enzi further cemented his name in Wyoming history by claiming a fourth term in the Senate. Enzi has never lost an election, and despite a gallant attempt by Democrat Charlie Hardy and longshot efforts by Libertarian Joseph S. Porambo and independent Curt Gottshall, there was no doubt who was going to win.

The only way Enzi, an effective and popular senator, could have been denied this latest six-year term was if he had been defeated in the GOP primary by Liz Cheney. But when Cheney abandoned her challenge to Enzi at the dawn of this year, the election was all but decided.

Enzi, along with his colleague Sen. John Barrasso, will have more power and influence in the new Senate, which will be controlled by the Republican Party now, after the GOP wrested control of the chamber from the Democrats.

Elections matter, and we are about to see how. During the next two years, a Senate and House both controlled by Republicans will offer a louder voice in opposition to President Barack Obama.

We fear it may turn into two years of even tighter gridlock as both parties position themselves for the 2016 presidential election. But it also will allow the GOP to pass and send bills to Obama, forcing him to sign or reject them.

Enzi, a conservative who has displayed a willingness to work across the aisle, could emerge as a very influential senator and Barrasso, a member of the Republican leadership team, is sure to have a higher profile.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis also breezed to re-election. The Wyoming Democratic Party, in a clear sign of its weakened condition, did not even nominate a candidate in this race.

Instead, a political gadfly named Richard Grayson, who has rarely set foot in the state, was on the ballot with the D behind his name. Libertarian Richard Brubaker and Constitution Party candidate Daniel Clyde Cummings asked their supporters to cast votes in their direction.

State Treasurer Mark Gordon was unopposed for a second term, and State Auditor Cynthia I. Cloud also ran without opposition. Both are Republicans.

Ed Murray, who won a packed GOP primary, was elected as secretary of state, easing past Libertarian Kit Carson and Constitution Party candidate Jennifer Young.

Gordon, Cloud and Murray will hold three of the more important offices in the state. It will be interesting to watch how they perform, in part to see if any of them has the ambition or ability to move up to a higher office.

Mead may have won his second term this week, but the jockeying to run for governor in 2018 already is underway.

The most intriguing race on the ballot was for state superintendent of public instruction. Hill, whose single term was rocked with controversy, chose to aim for governor, leaving the office wide open.

Republican Jillian Balow, a former teacher with experience in state government, claimed the office after a lively campaign against Democrat Mike Ceballos, who ran on his corporate experience. Many Republicans supported Ceballos, who showed Wyoming Democrats that it is possible to conduct a competitive race.

Locally, we had a pair of races of note. Tim Sapp reclaimed the Ward 3 seat he lost to Myron Heny four years ago, edging him in a close race. Both men are longtime Powell residents with the best interests of their section of town at heart.

Eight-year incumbent Carolyn Danko and Dusty Spomer won Powell’s two open seats on the Northwest College board, with challenger Martin Garhart coming in a distant third. All seemed committed to the college and the community, so we feel they offered nothing but good choices.

Well, it’s over now for a couple years. Voters have a chance to catch their breath while once and future candidates ponder their next race.

The voting is over and now it’s time to govern. We hope Tuesday’s winners focus on that.

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