How it will go

By on October 29, 2014

Predictions from Jake Nichols’ crystal ball.

Board of County Commissioners

The race for Board of County Commissioners is a tough one to call. It will likely be a dogfight decided by the slimmest of margins. Democrats will suffer the most on November 4. Ben Ellis, despite being probably the sharpest candidate of the group, simply has too much ground to make up. Registered Democrats are outnumbered and will need to get behind either Mark Newcomb or Smokey Rhea if they are going to put a Donkey on the commission.

Ellis has aligned himself too far to the left in the open field race. Being an incumbent won’t help either, thanks to a public distaste for the burdensome process that has become the Comp Plan ratification and Pete Jorgensen’s PAC attack on sitting BCC members. Ellis trailed both Rhea and Newcomb in the primary. His outburst at the Tea Party forum will prevent him from mining any Republican voters looking to go rogue or fence-sitters pining for a moderate. He’s in real trouble.

We didn’t think Rhea had legs to get past August but here she is. People are hurting in Teton County and Rhea has been fixing them for years. If ballot-punchers vote with their heart, Rhea has a chance. But she’s still far left leaning for most affluent Republicans who like to hang on to their money and exercise their property rights to the fullest extent. Newcomb has been impressive since the dog days of summer. He’s the only Dem able to rub elbows with conservatives and Planning Commission has been a proven stepping-stone to the Board of Commissioners. He’ll grab a seat only because Republicans, plus the lone Independent, will thin the GOP vote.

The Republican field is stacked. Paul Vogelheim walks on water when it comes to November. Not even an incumbent backlash will displace the Flying V. Paul Perry and Reynolds Pomeroy will run neck-and-neck for that second spot. Scott Anderson is the wildcard but will probably have to settle for playing the spoiler. Votes his way are votes lost for Perry and Pomeroy.

PREDICTION: Vogelheim, Newcomb, Perry. But we reserve the right to say Pomeroy could cause a photo finish to show.

Town Council

The weak card is disappointing. Three candidates chasing two seats guarantee at least one incumbent keeps his job. Bob Lenz is battle-tested and bulletproof. He’ll win going away. Don Frank will likely retain his spot as well. Challenger John Stennis simply doesn’t have the name cachet yet to attract uninformed voters.

PREDICTION: Lenz, Frank

Mayor

We’re not sure what was more surprising in the primary: Sara Flitner’s struggles or Mark Nowlin’s four-percentage point defeat. With more conservatives headed to polling stations next Tuesday, it’s not inconceivable for Nowlin to gain ground on Flitner, who may be perceived as the more liberal of the two. Still, follow the money. Flitner’s war chest is simply too tough to beat. She wins, but it’ll be closer than we would have thought back in August.

PREDICTION: Flitner

House 23

Flip a coin. No, really. A moderate Republican wins this race nine out of ten times. But try as he may, Jim Darwiche has gone to the well once too often making sure to mention he will be a part of the “Republican majority” in Cheyenne. Yes, Jim, but maybe that’s a bad thing. Voters like checks and balances and a liberal voice from Teton County at the state capital is a well-paved road for many Democrats.

Andy Schwartz hasn’t done himself any favors, either, harping on fringe issues like equality and pushing a state agenda over county at times. Washakie County residents don’t care if you might vote with them in Cheyenne, Andy. Teton County is as unique as it gets in the Cowboy State and a rep from these parts had better have our pet interests at heart. And anyone merely acknowledging global warming in this state is drawing a bull’s-eye on his back.

PREDICTION: Schwartz by a nose

House 22

Republican incumbent Marti Halverson is a straight shooter with libertarian leanings. She champions private property rights and localizing government control. Democratic challenger Natalia Duncan Macker has made up ground recently by focusing on gender inequality and education in Wyoming; these issues may not be enough to decide this election, however.

PREDICTION: Halverson

Coroner

Dr. Brent Blue has jumped the biggest hurdle. Dave Hodges actually performed the job of coroner on many occasions under Kiley Campbell. Blue has been in and out of the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Sure, he couldn’t help being the target of pro-life activists as one of the valley’s abortion providers, but he also has a colorful past.

And who is Russell Nelson?

PREDICTION: Blue

Clerk, assessor, hospital board, et al

Can’t we just have someone appoint these?

PREDICTION: Total apathy

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