Economic development, marijuana, major talking points at democratic gubernatorial debate in Riverton Thursday

All four registered Wyoming gubernatorial candidates attended a debate hosted by Riverton’s Central Wyoming College Thursday night.

Ken Casner, Michael Allen Green, Mary Throne, and Rex Wilde were asked questions by moderator Craig Blumenshine, as well as Steve Peck and Tennessee Watson at CWC’s Little Theater in front of a live audience of roughly 40 people. The event was also broadcast on Wyoming PBS TV, covered by Wyoming Public Radio, and streaming online.

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Economic diversity and marijuana were among the most discussed statewide issues. Health care, public lands, water rights, and guns in schools were some of the other topics that most candidates took a moment to address. A general conversation on “how to beat Republicans in Wyoming” was also provoked by the panel, followed by a few jabs at current Republican gubernatorial candidates by Rex Wilde. Wilde’s remakrs were primarily directed at Sam Galeotos and Foster Friess.

Wilde had the opportunity, via coin-flip, to address introduce himself to the audience first,

“I’m running for water, water is my passion. This state is the headwaters of the Columbia, Colorado, Missouri river drainage systems and we give our water away, people. These antiquated laws, from the late 1800’s and stuff, that’s crap. We need to re-adjust those, make those things right. I’m also for tourism, and marijuana. Legalized marijuana, recreational and medical. Medical should have been here years ago. The thing about the marijuana, is that we need revenue to fight for our water, and all of our revenue would go for education and water.

Rex re-directed a handful of questions back to the issue of legalized marijuana, and mentioned spending time at a Riverton bar Wednesday night where he met a rancher who was also a hemp-supporter. He also urged the crowd to “vote democrat” saying he hoped that one of the candidates on the stage could defeat the Republican nominee.

Mary Throne introduced herself next,

I’m running to be the governor for all of Wyoming. I’ll bring an independent voice to Wyoming that will evaluate ideas based on their merit, not on whether they’re from a party. In Wyoming, we value independence and we need our governors to always be speaking for the entire state and standing up for Wyoming. I grew up on a ranch west of Gillette, on Wild Horse Creek. So, I grew up around the energy industry and agriculture. I left to attend college and to see the world, but I made my way back to Wyoming in 1992. I spent 10 years in the legislature, building a reputation for getting the job done.”
Throne audibly and visibly appeared to have the most crowd support. She was the only candidate to receive a loud cheer after her introduction, and the only candidate to distribute campaign paraphernalia outside of the debate. Throne also hosted a meet and greet opportunity at Riverton’s Holiday Inn on Friday morning.
Ken Casner was introduced third, and began with a shout out to a local group,
I’m gonna say a toast to the ladies of the Arapaho nation tonight, because I think we deserve to get everybody included into this debate. I’m a candidate who is a dreamer, and the reason I’m a dreamer is because my family was on Ellis Island on my dad’s side and my mother’s side came in through south Texas. I grew up in 1950, grew up in Cheyenne Wyoming and moved to Elk Mountain, Wyoming where I ran a business for 20 years. So basically, I’m here because I think I can offer you a lot. I know every legislative office, I know city councils, I know everything. I ran in 2002 and I’m back for a re-match.”
Casner has ran for various public offices since 2002, saying he was involved in both major parties and as an independent. His last run for office was in 2016 for House District 47. He was defeated by incumbent, Republican Jerry Paxton 3,309-612.
Finally, Michael Allen Green gave his introduction to the crowd,
I’ve seen where the state has been declining rapidly since the 70’s in quality and quantity of life, and I would like to see as governors office, diversity that the governor has employed and deeper details and everything, and if we could just have a change in our policies. Diversify everything, the economies, I would go for that. I would go for coming to the 21st century, and making the marijuana and the hemp laws for the state to use.”
Green did not attend the debate Wednesday night in Casper. He expressed his hope that voters would choose a Democrat in 2018, and thanked Riverton residents for attending.
Wyoming Republican governor candidates also debated Wednesday in Casper.
Currently, there is only one candidate to have another scheduled stop in Fremont County. Mark Gordon will spend Tuesday, August 7th in Lander taking a tour of NOLS and speaking at two other events.
Wyoming PBS streamed the debate Thursday, you can catch the entire thing via their Facebook page.
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