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Foster Friess

GOP donor and governor candidate Foster Friess mingles with constituents during a May GOP fundraiser at The Hangar in Bar Nunn.

Your surgeon walks into the exam room and introduces himself/herself. He/she looks the part, full head of hair, strong hands, maybe cowboy attire, or a turquoise skirt, depending on how you like your surgeon. You ask how many times they have performed this operation.

The doctor responds, paraphrasing Foster Friess, “I don’t have any surgical (governance) training, but I will be guided by broad convictions about surgery (society) on the national level and I have basic themes and ideas on how surgery (America) should work and look.” And then, to extrapolate a bit, you expect them to say – “I will apply conservative principles to your surgery, removing only the fat and leaving as much meat and bones as I can, assuming I can tell the difference.”

You may think that politics and surgery have little to do with each other. But, done well, both require skill, long training, good judgment and expertise. The same is true for all professions and fruitful careers, and some jobs, like being a successful politician, also require significant interpersonal skills.

Unfortunately, politicians can be as ignorant as the voters please; the only requirement is to run the gauntlet of a winning election campaign. But we the citizens pay a huge price when we elect untrained, inexperienced and under-educated politicians to high offices such as governor. We may not realize it at the time, when the euphoria of our candidate winning is upon us. But when it comes time to govern we will learn quickly that governing is a learned profession which requires a broad range of skills that very few candidates possess.

Let’s look at the Republican candidates for governor since the primary is only four months away. We should eliminate Bill Dahlin and Rex Rammell right now. Rammell is a one issue candidate. No one knows him and the same is true for Dahlin.

Taylor Haynes and Harriet Hageman represent the same voices and values. Keep in mind that promising to engage in quixotic fights with the Federal government is not governing. Nor is advancing whacky theories about how you intend to wrest the public lands from Federal ownership and management even if incrementally, as Hageman suggests. These two play somewhat different trumpets, but the tune they blow is the same and it has little to do with solving the real problems facing this state. Those include: a state budget over-reliant on the minerals industry, an antiquated tax system that the Legislature refuses to modernize, young people fleeing for greater opportunities and a K-12 educational system under constant assault.

It is also not governing to say you support the Second Amendment, you are opposed to abortion, and won’t raise taxes. Those are easy promises in Wyoming made by almost every candidate.

Haynes likely peaked four years ago; he has been off the public stage for a long time. He is at least a true surgeon, a rancher and small business man. But he has no experience in government, nor in managing any kind of substantial enterprise. He is also a believer in the madcap public lands theories of the Constitutional State. Yes, Wyoming has legitimate issues with the way our public lands are managed by the Feds, but Haynes ideas are not helpful in getting to a reasoned, thoughtful, constructive resolution of any of the issues.

Hageman is a lawyer; she will tell you she has spent a lifetime studying federal regulation and battling the Feds over natural resources issues. She believes that the root of all the ills in Wyoming stem from Federal overregulation, and from these views flow her opinions on other issues. If you read her “Policy Positions,” it is a mishmash of exhortations, toss-away sound bites (support the minerals industry), and unfounded constitutional theories. The positions are calculated to sound erudite but are not answers to any of Wyoming’s real challenges.

Like Haynes she has no experience in government; she has never managed anything larger than a two-person law firm. She has never run for public office and is likely not well-known. She will work hard to try to get elected, but her ideas are not impressive. She represents the far right of the Republican party; she and Haynes will split that vote.

Foster Friess has recently tossed his big bags of money into the race, but he brings nothing else to the party. He admits he knows zilch about Wyoming politics and governance. Being rich does not qualify you to be governor. It will help pay the election bills and maybe hoodwink some voters, but hopefully not many.

That leaves Sam Galeotos and Mark Gordon. Stay tuned for the next column. I will also address Democrat Mary Throne’s candidacy. She is a natural resources lawyer, a long-time legislator and has deep Campbell County roots.

Larry Wolfe is an energy, natural resources and environmental lawyer in Cheyenne. Email:


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