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Senate Debate

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate David Dodson answers a question during a debate at Aug. 1 at Casper College. 

Sen. John Barrasso has represented Wyoming in Congress for 10 years. In that time, he’s risen to become the fourth-ranking member of the Senate leadership. During his tenure Congress, he’s done positive things for Wyoming, to be sure.

Most recently, his work with Gov. Matt Mead to reform the Endangered Species Act and implement Wyoming’s model of sage grouse management at the national level is laudable. He’s also been a strong advocate for Wyoming’s energy sector and has worked to prevent federal regulations from overburdening the fossil fuel industry that our state relies on for revenue.

However, too often it seems Barrasso is more interested in scoring quick points on cable news and climbing the political ladder than making real change.

Moreover, his win-at-all-costs style of politics leaves us wondering what he truly believes in.

For example, throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, he was quick to criticize the Democrats for using parliamentary tactics to push the Affordable Care Act through Congress. Members of this editorial board have listened as Barrasso forcefully denounce Democratic efforts to limit debate.

But when it was the Republican Congress’ turn to repeal the ACA in 2017 – an effort years in the works — Senate leadership attempted to push the legislation through with a late-night vote. The rushed legislation that Barrasso and his Republican peers attempted to pass while some Americans slept was part of a last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare, replacement plan be damned. Suddenly, it appeared Sen. Barrasso was just fine with late-night parliamentary tactics, as long as it was his side benefiting from them.

Barrasso’s career as a surgeon helped launch his fast-track to success in the Senate; and he long touted his bona fides about fixing the health care system. But his track record shows he’s more comfortable criticizing Democratic solutions than actually solving the problems with our health care system.

Yes, Barrasso has been a strong advocate for our state. But it is impossible to overlook his obstructionism, and at times, his partisan hypocrisy.

Barrasso’s opponent, however, appears to us to be more focused on solutions than sound bites.

Dave Dodson is a successful businessman who was so dissatisfied with Congress – and Barrasso in particular — that he wrote down his ideas, formulated a thorough plan of action and then ran a campaign on it.

Some have questioned his choice to switch from running as an Independent early in the race to running as a Republican; but we think it shows that he’s more concerned with getting things done than engaging in partisan politics. Some would call him a RINO – Republican In Name Only – because he advocates for working with Democrats to find solutions, but we think it shows he’s dedicated to serving his country – and his state – over his party.

Dodson’s plan includes legislation to implement term limits in Congress – two terms for senators, four for representatives — and he’s pledged to only serve two terms if elected.

This kind of reform is much needed in Washington.

Dodson is also pushing for campaign finance reform, aimed at getting big money out of politics. Increasing campaign finance transparency and reducing special interest influence over our representatives is another crucial step in creating a Congress that works for the people. John Barrasso’s campaign has been almost entirely funded by out-of-state PAC money.

Which begs the question, who is Barrasso really representing in Washington, D.C.?

Dodson, meanwhile, wants to address one major issue with health care – prescription drug costs. And while he may not offer a total overhaul of the health care system, he appears more committed to solving health care than scoring points with it.

We see a clear difference between the two candidates – one is running on convictions, while the other appears more focused on ambition.

On the stump, Barrasso loves to tout the special qualities of Wyoming, a place where you can talk directly to your politicians. But he’s avoided debating with Dodson so that residents of our state can compare the two. Dodson, meanwhile, has jumped at opportunities for debate.

Barrasso has served our state for a decade, and for that, he deserves our thanks. But we don’t believe he deserves our vote this election. Dave Dodson has a positive vision for our state and for our country. He appears to us deeply committed to wanting to improve the awful state of partisan politics that has corroded our country.

It’s time for a change in Wyoming. Dave Dodson should be the Republican pick to represent Wyoming in the U.S. Senate.

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Publisher Dale Bohren declared a conflict of interest and did not participate in this editorial.

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