By Jeff Rebitski, Staff Writer
RIVERTON – The lights came down in the Peck Theater and the 2022 candidates for Governor of the State of Wyoming were ready for anything as the team of three prepared their gentle inquisition with questions randomly selected from a preapproved pool. Asking the questions were Former Ranger publisher, Steve Peck, Political Reporter for the Eagle Tribune, Jasmine Hall and Political Reporter for WyoFile, Maggie Mullins.
Joining them on stage were three of the four Gubernatorial candidates running this year. Rex Rammel, Retired Veterinarian from Jackson, Brent Bien, Retired Marine Colonel, and Incumbent candidate Mark Gordon.
The 4th candidate, James Quick declined the invitation to appear.
The moderator for the night was Craig Blumenshine, Director Of Communications National Museum of Military Vehicles and owner of Teton Therapies in Riverton. And retired Sr. Public Affairs Producer for Wyoming PBS.
Once the ground rules for the debate were established, the questions were delivered by the panel in order and then rotated so that the same panel member didn’t ask the same candidate their questions.
All the candidates were cordial and welcomed both the live audience and the ones at home, watching on PBS. The Debate was also going to be available on PBS.org as well as the Wyoming PBS youtube channel.
Questions ranged in content from Gas Prices to School Safety and all candidates seemed appropriately prepared to provide a solid, no nonsense answer. There were a few rebuttals to comments according to parliamentary procedures. Craig Blumenshine was highly capable and maintained a high level of decorum throughout the debate.
It was mentioned by each candidate that they were Conservatives and Constitutionalists. They all agreed with limiting Medicaid expansion and all felt that the borders needed to be secure as well as supporting fossil fuels as an industry as well as energy indipendence for the State of Wyoming and the country. However, that is where philosophies began to differ.
Candidate Rex Rammell, declared that he would, on his first day in office, expel all federal bureaucrats at the policy making level from Wyoming, using the 10th amendment to justify his actions. His design that each state has the authority to take and maintain control of their own resources and make their own laws. Brent Bien, commented that it would take a warrant to do that, but finding a judge that would sign such a document would be difficult.
Each candidate brings a long list of accomplishments that makes them feel qualified to serve as Governor of the state. In order of appearance, Rex Rammell, lifelong resident and local veterinarian in the Jackson area. He claims that his experience in business and his life of community involvement is enough to lead the state. Brent Bien, shared his past experiences as well. Sharing his more than 30 years of Marine Officer experience, leading everything from a company of soldiers to an entire military installation. Overseas or at home, Brent Brein has leadership in his blood. Finally, Governor Mark Gordon, who has a strong proven track record with at least one term under his belt. His school initiatives are an important part of his campaign. His list of accomplishments are significant and he stands on his politics as a lifelong resident.
There were but a few pivotal moments of note during the debate. Either through rebuttle or by accusaiotion. Candidate Rex Rammell at one point declared that Candidate Brent Bien was, in fact, not a citizen of Wyoming having served the last 30 years in military service. He claimed that because the Wyoming Constitution states that the gubinatorial candidate must have resided withing the state for at least 5 years, Bien was not qualified. Bien rebutted his statement declaring the military service exemption. Meaning that he had maintained his residency by paying his state taxes the entire 30 years and maintaining a home address.
Selecting a candidate based on the information listed on a campaign card is difficult. It takes a commitment to hearing them speak and articulate their philosophies to really make a choice. The chance to see these 3 leaders debate the hot topics of our time is an opportunity of a lifetime as one of these men will lead the state for the foreseeable future. As we draw ever closer to the primary date and eventually to the election, one must read, interpret and decide for oneself who is best qualified. The point is as always, exercise your right to be part of a process that is granted to each and every citizen of this great stae and country.
Once again, you may see the entire debate, on Wyomingpbs.org and the Youtube channel of the same name.