Leslie Petersen runs for governor

By Jim Stanford on May 28, 2010

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Petersen at a Democratic event in Jackson last summer.

After waiting on end for a good candidate to emerge, Leslie Petersen has decided to do the job herself.

The Wilson resident and chairwoman of the Wyoming Democratic Party announced her candidacy for governor today.

Petersen will be the front-runner in the Democratic primary to succeed Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who has decided not to run again after serving two terms. She faces several challengers in her own party and a crowded field of prominent Republicans seeking the state’s highest office.

“I am a Freudenthal Democrat,” she said in a release, “and this campaign will be based on common sense, common ground and civility. I’ve been involved with public policy issues in Wyoming for over 40 years, and this is the time to put my principles and ideas on the table.”

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Posted under Democratic Party, Politics, Wyoming, Wyoming Legislature

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Jorgensen retires from Wyoming Legislature

By Jim Stanford on March 9, 2010

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Pete Jorgensen at the Capitol.

No more Re-Petes.

State Rep. Pete Jorgensen, D-Jackson, said Monday he won’t seek re-election for House District 16.

“I think it’s time,” Jorgensen said. “I’m hoping we can get a good person to fill the seat.”

Jorgensen, 75, a retired highway engineer, served four terms in the Legislature. He established himself as a watchdog on the Appropriations Committee, which controls the purse strings of state government spending.

The former University of Wyoming trustee took on legislators from both parties in resisting projects he deemed lavish or frivolous. He gained a small measure of notoriety in 2004 for opposing the use of state funds for construction of luxury boxes at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

His skepticism was pivotal in the state’s jettisoning of a plan, hatched by Republican leaders in 2005, to build a $28 million graduate school of business and corporate training center in Jackson — a boondoggle that looks even more foolish in light of the economic collapse on Wall Street. U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, then state treasurer, was among the architects of that plan, along with state Sen. Grant Larson, R-Jackson.

Jorgensen was a champion of open government and Wyoming’s public lands and wildlife. He used to say he represented only one special interest in Cheyenne — the public interest.

Teton Dems now have two sets of big shoes to fill; Gov. Dave Freudenthal announced last week he won’t run again this fall.

The Teton County Democratic Convention is March 20. Candidates have until May 28 to file to run in primaries.

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Gov Dave won’t seek 3rd term

By Jim Stanford on March 4, 2010

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Freudenthal speaks to supporters at a gathering in Jackson last summer.

In a move that largely had been expected, Gov. Dave Freudenthal said today he won’t seek a third term.

“Eight years is enough,” the governor told the Cowboy State Free Press.

Why he waited so long to make the announcement is a bit of a mystery, but so has been much of Freudenthal’s political strategy these past few years.

The move clears the way for a primary with what is likely to be a crowded Republican field and one prominent Democratic contender, state Sen. Mike Massie of Laramie.

While Freudenthal enjoyed high popularity, he often frustrated Democratic supporters by not going far enough on their behalf. I once heard him say that the best way for him to help the Democratic Party in Wyoming was to be a good governor, and while Democrats would not dispute that, there is a sense of disappointment that he could have done more.

Among his accomplishments are creation of the Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund and major investments in education, including the Hathway Scholarship program at the University of Wyoming.

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let’s spend all of Wyoming’s trust funds on … a really big gun

By Jim Stanford on February 23, 2010

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Wyoming legislator in Cheyenne.

Maybe it’s the water in Cheyenne, or a surge of Republican testosterone.

But there’s something about the Wyoming legislative session that turns otherwise rational, reasonable men into a pack of chest-bumping bro’s trying to out-redneck each other.

This year the aggressive posturing has reached a near-absurd low. First, the governor moved to effectively squash wind power in Wyoming.

Then came a slew of bills railing against the federal government, stopping just short of secession. Five bills challenging federal authority have passed the House, including one that would further sanctify the Cowboy State’s central obsession: guns.

Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, talks of a “palpable anger” toward the federal government from Wyoming residents.

What are they so angry about?

Oh, yeah: We elected a black Democrat president.

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Fox anchor lashes Barrasso over public option

By Jim Stanford on October 7, 2009

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U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., quickly has become a rising star of the GOP, at least on TV, because he’s articulate (and clean!), and hasn’t disgraced himself in a sex scandal.

As Gov. Dave Freudenthal humorously quipped this summer, Barrasso is a media darling of Fox News. But on his latest appearance, the smooth-talking doctor from Casper finds himself a little tongue-tied as Shepard Smith, Fox’s least right-wing-crazy anchor, goes on the offensive against health insurance companies. Go Shep!

As for Freudenthal, the milquetoast governor was in the news this week for being one of only six Democratic heads of state not to sign a letter supporting health insurance reform. The letter was pretty timid in nature, not even spelling out specific reform measures such a public insurance option. Freudenthal’s excuse? The dog ate the letter, or something like that.

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