Bill Sniffin Wyoming's national award winning columnist

Bill Sniffin News
Home Search

1833 - John Barrasso deserves to be reelected

If you think U. S. Sen. John Barrasso’s Republican primary campaign is crazy this year, you need to harken back to 1996.

         There were nine candidates running in the GOP primary to replace retiring U. S. Sen. Al Simpson. The winner was current Senior Senator Mike Enzi, with just 27,056 votes. Barrasso was second with 24,918 votes.  Third was Curt Meier of Torrington with 14,739 votes. Meier is currently running for State Treasurer in the Republican primary.

         In an act showing class, Barrasso immediately congratulated Enzi on his win and joined his campaign staff.  Enzi won in the general and the two men continued to work together.  Today, they are our two U. S. Senators.

         Barrasso’s journey to become an incumbent U. S. Senator took some twists and turns but he ultimately achieved his goal 11 years after that first primary run.

He has had an amazing Wyoming life.

         Known as “Wyoming’s Doctor,” Barrasso came the closest to being a ubiquitous TV personality as there could be found in Wyoming from 1996 to 2007.  He appeared constantly on state TV stations promoting Wyoming Health Fairs and offering health tips.  The program was immensely popular and propelled the Casper state senator. He moved to the front of the succession pack when U. S. Senator Craig Thomas died of cancer in 2007.  Democrat Gov. Dave Freudenthal appointed Barrasso to fill out Thomas’s term.  The state Republican Party had also submitted the names of Cynthia Lummis (later our U. S. Representative) and Republican strategist Tom Sansonetti.

         Barrasso was elected in the subsequent 2008 special election to a finish the term.  He later won in 2012.  This is his fourth campaign for the office.

         Most observers thought he would sail through the primary easily before facing a veteran Jackson Democrat Gary Trauner, who has twice lost in statewide races. Another candidate in the GOP primary is Charlie Hardy, a perennial candidate.

         To Barrasso’s chagrin, another well-heeled Jackson foe named Dave Dodson entered the GOP primary fray and has been working very hard.

         Dodson is a retired businessman and entrepreneur.  He is an aggressive candidate and his campaign seems to be running on all cylinders.  It took a while for voters to take him seriously.

Dodson is spending over a million dollars of his own money on the primary race, mainly in TV and newspaper ads attacking Barrasso plus lots of direct mail. He is also traveling the state with his wife Wendy passing out a handbook for Wyoming that he has written called ”Put Wyoming First.” His campaign has gotten Barrasso’s attention.

         Another candidate in the GOP primary is retired judge John Holtz of Laramie, whose campaign is more docile than Dodson’s.

         Barrasso, who has a $5 million campaign nest egg, has most recently been pounding the sidewalks of the state making sure he does not get ambushed in this race.

         Oddly for Barrasso, it appears some Wyoming voters have short memories and the allure of an upstart might be appealing.

         To me, John Barrasso has always been a wonderful representative for Wyoming.  And although he gets criticized because he is on Fox News so much and also because he appears to be attached to the hip of Senator Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, I think he is doing a fine job for the Cowboy State.

         Barrasso is moving up fast in the leadership positions in the Senate and this will bring an amazing amount of clout to our state, which has the smallest population the America.

         He and Mike Enzi are a perfect team, in that Enzi quietly gets a tremendous amount of good work done, while John works the political side of Congress to Wyoming’s advantage.  What a great 1-2 punch!

         Those two, plus working with U. S. Representative Liz Cheney, give our state a tremendous advantage over just about every other state when it comes to influence on the national stage.

         Do I think they could do even more?  Yes, it seems, at times, that with all this clout we should be seeing more influence.  But I think that will come.  Congress is still in a state of shock working with President Donald Trump. As Trump’s new world order becomes more of a reality, our Congressional delegation is perfectly positioned to reap the benefits.

         When you have a good fast horse to ride like John Barrasso, you do not change mounts in the middle of a successful race. 

         I am voting for John Barrasso. I hope you do, too.