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Republican John Barrasso tops Trauner in Wyoming Senate race

November 7, 2018
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FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2018 file photo, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, confers with Sen.Tom Carper, D-Del., the ranking member, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Republican Sen. John Barrasso won a second full term Tuesday, beating Democratic businessman Gary Trauner in a show of support for President Donald Trump in Wyoming.

Barrasso argued in his campaign that declining federal regulation and cuts to federal income taxes under Trump are helping Wyoming’s economy. Voters saw little reason to disagree and disrupt over 40 years of Republican dominance of Wyoming’s representation in the U.S. Senate.

“Elections are about choices and people usually ask themselves the question, are we better off now than we were a couple years ago? For Wyoming the answer is absolutely yes, we’re better off,” Barrasso said after winning.

His votes included one from Trump supporter Chet Burton, of Cheyenne, who voted a straight Republican ticket.

“Money, actually, that’s the reason. I’ve made more money in the last two years than the eight years under Obama. So I’m loving that,” said Burton, who works at a gas-fired power plant.

Others simply saw little reason to rock the boat. Gov. Dave Freudenthal appointed Barrasso in 2007 following the death of Sen. Craig Thomas but Barrasso, 66, was well-known as a state legislator and Casper orthopedic surgeon for over a decade before that.

“I thought he’s been pretty good to us,” Tony Gontar, of Cheyenne, said of Barrasso. “He’s been predictable. You kind of know where he stands on things.”

Barrasso spent over $3 million on his campaign, six times more than Trauner’s $500,000. Barrasso raised $5.5 million to Trauner’s $800,000.

Legislation recently introduced by Barrasso includes a bill to end federal tax credits for electric vehicles.

Trauner, of Jackson Hole, has been chief operating officer of St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson. He previously served on the Teton County school board and co-founded businesses including internet provider OneWest.net and dog food company Mulligan Stew Pet Food.

“We knew it was a challenge. I did it because of my kids, because they’re worried about their future and I think they should be,” Trauner said. “The people of Wyoming have spoken.”

Trauner, 59, was the Democratic nominee for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat in 2006 and lost to Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin by less than 1 percent. In 2008, Trauner lost to Republican former State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis by a 10-point margin.

Gale W. McGee was the last Wyoming Democrat to serve in the U.S. Senate, from 1959-77.

Also Tuesday, Republican Liz Cheney won a second term, defeating Democratic businessman Greg Hunter of Laramie in a race that drew little attention compared to her previous campaigns.

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Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver

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For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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