THE BUZZ 2: Quiet Candidate

By on September 20, 2016

Cheney refuses Greene’s debate challenges in Wyoming’s Congressional race.

Liz Cheney and Ryan Greene are the major players in the race to fill Wyoming’s sole Congressional seat.

Liz Cheney and Ryan Greene are the major players in the race to fill Wyoming’s sole Congressional seat.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Wyoming voters will not have the opportunity to watch the two leading candidates vying for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives debate one-on-one. As the state finds itself at a crossroads regarding its largest industry—energy—and as threats of climate change aggrandize, the Congressional race is of increasing importance to Wyomingites.

“Wyoming deserves better,” said Democratic candidate Ryan Greene regarding Republican challenger Liz Cheney’s apparent refusal.

“We challenged Ms. Cheney to five debates, one in every corner of the state and one in Casper,” Greene said. “We did that so anyone could come out and meet the candidates and have the opportunity to ask questions.”

Rather than reply to Greene directly, the Cheney campaign referred Greene’s proposal to the state Republican Party. State GOP chairman Matt Micheli told the Casper Star-Tribune that Cheney would only participate in an October 20 debate scheduled at Casper College, when Libertarian candidate Lawrence Struempf and Constitution Party candidate Daniel Cummings will also participate.

However, Cheney’s campaign manager Bill Novotny told PJH that future debate invitations might be accepted. “She looks forward to debating her opponents in the general election on October 20 in Casper,” Novotny said. “[She] will consider additional invitations as we receive them.”

But Greene’s campaign manager Max Weiss doubts Cheney’s willingness to engage in dialogue. “The Cheney campaign won’t return our phone calls or emails.” Weiss said. “I don’t think Mr. Novotny is being sincere.”

Greene and Cheney have received high profile endorsements in recent weeks, upping the ante on the importance of their race. Former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal and the Wyoming State federation of labor (AFL-CIO) have endorsed Greene. The Wyoming Mining Association has endorsed Cheney.

“The Wyoming Mining Association believes Liz Cheney understands the critical issues and challenges facing Wyoming’s mining industry, and that she is the candidate best prepared to be our most effective advocate in Congress,” WMA executive director Jonathan Downing said in a statement.

Cheney says she will roll back federal regulation of the fossil fuel industry, specifically targeting the Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Land Management.

Greene favors diversifying the state’s energy sector, adding wind power to the state’s economic drivers. The AFL-CIO cited Greene’s support for unions as a reason for their endorsement.

“As a welder, Greene has worked hand-in-hand with Wyoming’s organized laborers,” executive secretary of the Wyoming’s AFL-CIO Kim Floyd said in a statement. “Mrs. Cheney has never worked in Wyoming.”

Both candidates contend they have spent hundreds of hours traveling the state to talk with voters. Greene estimates he has put 50 thousand miles on his car travelling around the state.

“We have been to every single county at least three times,” he said. “I’ve worn out three pairs of cowboy boots.”

Novotny told PJH, “Liz has traveled tens of thousands of miles across Wyoming, visiting with voters in every county and corner of our state.”

Still, Cheney’s on-the-ground presence in the state has come under scrutiny. Wyoming attorney general Peter Michael is currently investigating Cheney’s campaign for making robocalls. As of press time Michael had not responded to inquiries regarding the alleged calls.

In July, Cheney was criticized for claiming to be elsewhere in the state of Wyoming and missing a Lusk Farm Bureau candidate forum, when in fact she was in Chicago at an event with her father, former vice president Dick Cheney.

Greene acknowledged that the Cheney campaign would likely outspend him in the race. “But she is not going to out-work us,” he said. PJH

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About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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