Evidence Based Wyoming Wyoming politics, conservatively by the numbers

The next step for Wyoming?

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You may not be aware, but one of the single most consequential events for the next two years in Wyoming is happening this weekend. The newly elected Representative-elects and Senators/Senator-elects are meeting to decide who will fill the legislative leadership roles.  

I’d urge you to get involved in this momentous choice. Contact your newly elected representatives and give them your thoughts on who to select.

The single most consequential of these is the Speaker of the House election. It pits the elder statesman conservative Mark Jennings versus the liberal, good ol’boy politician Eric Barlow.

Our newly minted Representatives have a meaningful choice: break with the last four years of failed leadership, electing Mark Jennings Speaker of the House. Alternatively, Wyoming could continue the liberal Harshman/Barlow/Lindholm scheme, spending until tax increases are unavoidable. Electing Eric Barlow signals Wyoming will need to rely on more and more federal government largess. Wyoming would be forced to adopt tax increases while ignoring significant spending cuts.

Full disclosure: I’ve run against Eric Barlow twice, losing by 100 votes each time. I have been highly critical of Mr. Barlow’s approach to government and his preferred policy prescriptions. That said, Mr. Barlow has served to the best of his ability acting in the manner he thinks is best for Wyoming. The problem is his ideas for Wyoming aren’t compatible with Wyoming’s future success.

The case for Mark Jennings is simple; we’ve tried the liberal Barlow spend and tax model, as conceived by Harshman, Barlow, and Lindholm. The Barlow approach has failed Wyoming. In my view, Wyoming is in a worse position than four years ago, even without considering COVID.  

The simple point is we tried the liberal Barlow way for the last four years, and it does not work. So let’s make a change. Let’s try another approach; a Mark Jennings led approach to make meaningful spending cuts, reforming our broken budget models, and putting Wyoming on a path to a sustainable future without new taxes.

The case against Eric Barlow is one of recent history and is not insubstantial. The first argument against Mr. Barlow is that he’s been part of the leadership that has failed us recently. Even if you disagree, Mr. Barlow’s entire voting history makes him a questionable choice to lead a more conservative Wyoming House of Representatives.

Mr. Barlow has:

  • Supported Medicaid expansion in his early career, working with Democrat Mary Throne to get it adopted. More recently, Mr. Barlow has voted against the expansion. Is this a political expediency as most of Wyoming stands against the expansion or is it a heartfelt belief? The simple truth is that only Mr. Barlow knows, which is too large a risk as the expansion could saddle Wyoming with significant unfunded federal mandates.
  • Mr. Barlow was in favor of the infamous and unconstitutional Senate File 104. SF-104 nearly saw Governor Mead censured by his Republican party for his conduct concerning SF-104 and Superintendant Cindy Hill. The Wyoming Supreme Court resoundingly rejected the motive and methods of SF-104. The next Speaker of the House ought not to favor unconstitutional legislation, ever.
  • In 2019 air-ambulance clubs were brought under the Department of Insurance’s control by a bill sponsored by Mr. Barlow. The upshot was two-fold; it gave the state access to roughly six million dollars in funds from the federal government and eliminated almost all the previously existing air-ambulance service programs. The few programs that did remain saw the cost rise by 400%. This approach to government is not acceptable to my conservative views.
  • Finally and most troubling to me is Mr. Barlow is not dedicated to the pro-life cause. Case and point: Mr. Barlow chaired a meeting on Rep. Chuck Grey’s ultrasound bill a few years back. As chairman, Mr. Barlow did a splendid job. After the committee heard all testimony, the bill was voted out of committee, nearly unanimously. This pleased the nearly twenty or so people from Mr. Barlow’s Campbell County who traveled to Cheyenne to support the measure. Unfortunately, as soon as everyone went home and the bill reached the House floor, Mr. Barlow offered an amendment to remove the bill’s heart. The ultimate goal of the Barlow amendment was to avoid fights with the US Supreme Court. Really? Don’t side with life because it may upset folks in DC? I don’t see it this way. That is a fight that needs to happen. You’re pro-life, or you aren’t. You fight, or you don’t. Mr. Barlow made the wrong choice here.

The choice is clear: Wyoming needs a new approach. Wyoming’s legislature needs new leadership. Rep. Mark Jennings is the only choice that will give us a fresh shot at saving Wyoming from new taxes and a crumbling economy.

I’d ask you to make a difference, reach out to your newly-minted legislator and ask them to support Mark Jennings for Speaker of the House at the Republican Caucus this weekend (November 13-15, 2020).

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