WY-01: Barbara Cubin vs. Gary Trauner

Barbara Cubin could well be called the Calamity Jane of Congress. The great-great granddaughter of one of Wyoming’s first homesteaders, she earned her undergraduate degree while working as a teacher, realtor, social worker and chemist. Following stints in the state house and senate, Cubin went to Congress in 1994 vowing to launch a counter-strike against what she called the “war on the West” waged by the Clinton Administration.

Cubin (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 97%) was an unabashed champion of property rights as chairman of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee and rose to be secretary of the House Republican Conference.

Her challenger is Democrat Gary Trauner, a New York-born founder of an Internet service provider that he sold for a handsome sum. He is now a resident of Jackson Hole and president of the Teton County School Board.

Almost as if reading from the Democratic National Committee playbook, Trauner takes stands to the sharp left of Cubin and carefully sculpts his way of saying them. Regarding the 2nd Amendment, for example, the Democrat says: “I support the right of people to bear arms,” but “I support appropriate and reasonable safety regulations.” As for immigration, “he opposes guest-worker programs because they would create a ‘permanent underclass’” (Jackson Hole News and Guide, April 19, 2006). Seven days earlier he had told the same publication he “favors creating a guest-worker program that allows those who have not been convicted of a crime to earn citizenship.” He says that “reversing a tax cut is not increasing taxes if the cut ‘shouldn’t have happened in the first place.’” (Casper Star Tribune, July 8, 2006). He also “says he is pro-choice on abortion, supports euthanasia, and disagrees with the war on Iraq.” (Sheridan Press, Feb. 27, 2006).

Trauner feels he can win because “this is essentially a cheap seat. This is not a $10 million race or even a $5 million race and so the returns on the investment could be huge, because let’s face it, a seat is a seat.” That’s what Trauner told the Jackson Hole News and Guide he said to DNC Chairman Howard Dean when he sought financial backing. And that’s part of the case for strong support of Barbara Cubin: A seat is a seat, and a conservative is a conservative.