Gary Trauner, a Wilson businessman who lost a squeaker of a race last year against Representative Barbara Cubin, R-Wyoming, announced Monday he was going to run again for Wyoming’s at-large seat in the House of Representatives.
Trauner lost last year’s race by a mere 1,012 votes. He distinguished himself through his approach to campaigning, going door-to-door across Wyoming to 15,000 homes — a style that was in marked contrast to Cubin’s campaign style. Cubin once famously said she’d “rather eat roadkill” than go door-to-door.
At his announcement today in Casper, Trauner said he’d been mulling over whether he should run again as the Democratic candidate when a recent incident pushed him into running again.
“I had gone to the grocery store when I heard my name called,” Trauner said. A gentleman having coffee in the grocery store pointed to a newspaper and asked Trauner if he’d read about the growing controversy over expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which Congress had approved, President Bush had vetoed and had that veto sustained by a Republican minority.
Trauner said the gentleman having coffee was upset with the partisan politics, and said “I’ve been a Republican all my life, but don’t we deserve something better?”
Trauner, after long discussions with his wife, decided the answer was “Yes.”
“I’m running again for the same reasons I ran before,” Trauner said. Critical issues like health, energy and immigration haven’t advanced in the past year, he said. “Wyoming deserves better.”
He emphasized the need to encourage small business, responsible development of energy while protecting Wyoming’s special places, and a desire for both better and smaller government.
Why announce now, more than a year before the 2008 November election?
Trauner said he and his wife had recently reached the decision he should run again, and simply figured the rest of Wyoming should know too. He deferred answering how much money he’s raised for the 2008 campaign, saying it would be filed on the Federal Election Commission web site Monday evening.
“Money is simply a tool to get your message out,” he said, but noted he’s been receiving contributions without asking.
Last year, Trauner was very competitive with Cubin on raising money for his campaign.
Asked if he would run a campaign any differently than last year, Trauner said, “you live and learn during a campaign. I guess my goal would be to meet more Wyoming people.”
He pointed to new, black cowboy boots he was wearing and grinned, “I wore my last pair out.”
In the last race, the Cubin campaign made an issue out of Trauner being from New York. In response to that Monday, Trauner noted that he still won about half of the state’s vote. “When people talk about that, they can’t talk about anything else,” he said, noting that Wyoming’s congressional delegation doesn’t have anyone who was born in Wyoming.
“My kids were born here,” he added, saying that was a primary reason he’s running for office again.
On energy, Trauner noted a recent conference in Jackson that pointed at the need for balanced energy development that protects the environment.
“I think Wyoming should be a national and world leader,” Trauner said, adding that the leadership should not only be with natural gas, oil and coal, but with alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and switch grass.
On Iraq, Trauner said: “I think we need common sense and recognize we’re in a tough place with no easy answers,” he said.
Asked if his campaign would “go negative” as the Cubin campaign was toward him last year, Trauner said there’s a difference between going negative and “holding officials accountable for what they’ve done and haven’t done.”
That being said, Trauner noted that if the only way he could win was with a negative campaign, “it wouldn’t be worth it.”
Trauner said he has no control over whether Cubin runs again, or who he’ll face in the general election next year.
Cubin was first elected to Congress in 1994, and is now serving her seventh two-year term. While Cubin hasn’t officially announced her plans for next year, she has said she intends to seek another term.
She faces a primary challenge from Swede Nelson of Cheyenne and Kenn Gilchrist of Casper. State Representative Colin Simpson has also indicated he might challenge her for the House seat.