Wyoming's Hillary Dilemma
Democrats in Wyoming are in position to make huge gains in this election cycle. We have a democratic governor who won by a 40% margin in the 2006 election. We also have a congressional candidate who lost in '06 by about 1,000 votes and who has already scared the republican incumbent out of the '08 election. We have funding at historical levels and for the first time have hired regional field staff and are actively recruiting candidates to run in every corner of the state. While we are lagging behind the democratic parties in some of our neighboring states, we are following their lead and will join the resurgence of the Democratic Party in the Rocky Mountain West.
All of this progress will be completely reversed if Hillary Clinton is our party's presidential nominee. For reasons I don't agree with and don't completely understand, most voters in Wyoming seem to hate Hillary Clinton. This is in part due to the perception of her as being someone who supports big government, most notably through a federal government takeover of the health care system. She is also paying a heavy price for the sins of her husband.
If Barack Obama is the democratic presidential nominee, we will be the party of new ideas that understands that a united America will be much better able to address the serious problems facing our country than a divided America. If Hillary Clinton is our party's nominee, every democratic candidate in Wyoming will be painted with that same liberal, big government brush. We will also be the target of the locker room jokes that rightfully belong to Bill Clinton.
Some people feel that the
basis of this argument is really that we can't support Mrs. Clinton because
she is a woman. This is simply not true. Wyoming has a long history of
supporting women in government and politics. Wyoming was the first government
in the history of the world to grant equal voting rights to women. We had
the first woman public elected official (Esther Hobart Morris) and the
first woman elected governor in the country (Nellie Tayloe Ross). Our opposition
to Hillary Clinton is not based on her being a woman, it is based on the
fact that her nomination will kill the chances of many democratic candidates
around the state.
While I don't agree with this view of Mrs. Clinton, I have to accept that this is the truth. It has become the dirty little secret in the Democratic Party. My fears for the Wyoming Democratic Party are shared by some party leaders throughout the Rocky Mountain West. This region is vitally important to the growth of the national party. While we continue to lose ground in the south, democrats have made huge gains in the west. Not long ago, republicans held the governors' offices in all eight Rocky Mountain states. Democrats now hold five out of eight. Westerners have an independent, libertarian spirit and democrats here can make republicans pay a heavy price for years of pandering to the social conservatives. None of this will happen if Hillary wins the nomination.
John A. Millin, M.D., Chair
Wyoming Democratic Party
December 2, 2007