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Dem Gubernatorial Debate

Mary Throne, Democratic candidate for governor, answers a question during an Aug. 1 debate at Casper College's Wheeler Hall. Throne is a former state lawmaker.

Former state legislator Mary Throne easily earned the Democrats’ nomination for governor Tuesday night.

The presumptive front-runner from the race’s start, Throne — who served a decade as Cheyenne’s voice in the Wyoming House of Representatives — had little to worry about as results rolled in on Primary Night, with Politico calling the race in her favor at 9 p.m. with just under a third of all precincts reporting.

The New York Times and the Associated Press called the vote in her favor shortly after.

Throne earned 71 percent of the vote. Fellow Democrat Michael Allen Green counted 11 percent of the vote at the time the race was called, while Kenneth Casner and fringe candidate Rex Wilde rounded out the vote total.

Throne, who last served as minority leader of the Wyoming House of Representatives before narrowly losing her seat in 2016, was long-considered the Democratic favorite against a field of candidates with little legislative experience. Casner, a small business owner, often struggled on the debate stage with outlining cohesive strategies for accomplishing his policy stances. Green, meanwhile, had been quiet in his bid, with no visible campaigning to speak of.

Reached at her watch party at The Albany, the downtown Cheyenne bar where she first met her husband, Throne said she was “honored and humbled” to be her party’s nominee for governor, and though she said she expected to be outspent in the general election, she would “not be outworked.”

“I’ve been running a general election race since I began,” said Throne. “This was never just about running a primary for me. I’ve been spending so much time with Republicans across the state over the past few years and nobody seems to have a plan to help move this state forward or compromise on issues … they’re all just trying to ‘out-conservative’ each other.”

The Wyoming Democratic Party plans to mobilize immediately, said party chairman Joe Barbuto. Party leadership will be meeting with the nominee at its Aug. 25 meeting in Buffalo, where they will finalize a ground game in what is expected to be a continuation of strong volunteer mobilization efforts exhibited throughout this year’s races. Tangible examples of Democratic enthusiasm have been noted by party leaders. Dean Ferguson, the party’s executive director, named a recent annual event he had attended in Fort Bridger in Uinta County, which counted 51 people in attendance. Several years ago, the same event pulled about a dozen people.

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“And that’s been pretty normal,” Ferguson said.

Representatives with the state party say they feel comfortable with their chances against Wyoming Treasurer Mark Gordon, the Republican nominee. In a message to the party’s mailing list on Monday, Ferguson said the party feels its candidates should fare well in the general election, regardless of who earned the GOP nomination.

Barbuto said he believes the appeal of its candidates this November is strong enough to cross party lines, helped largely by a dog fight of a primary on the Republican side that has been uncharacteristically combative and may have left a bad taste in voters’ mouths.

Though Democrats face uphill battles in their bids for other statewide battles and for Congress, the party sees optimism in its legacy successes: Wyoming voters, Barbuto said, have a “history of electing the best person for the job,” regardless of party, a reason why three of the last five governors have been Democrats.

“Whoever wins the GOP nomination isn’t going to have an easy time,” Bill Cubin, a GOP strategist, told the Star-Tribune on Tuesday.

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Follow politics reporter Nick Reynolds on Twitter @IAmNickReynolds

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