Gary Trauner took important lessons from his razor thin loss against Republican representative Barbara Cubin in the 2006.
“One of the things I realized…or maybe hadn’t really thought about…is how many people put their hopes and dreams into me as a potentially elected official and leader,” Trauner said.
Trauner’s narrow loss showed that a Democrat can be competitive in Wyoming under the right circumstances. Unfortunately for him, the race against Cynthia Lummis in 2008 wasn’t nearly so tight.
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“Demographically it’s really hard for a Democrat to run statewide in a presidential year,” said Trauner.
After the two losses, Trauner went back to his life in Teton County, taking on a role as COO at St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson Hole and spending time with family.
It’s that family, however, who Trauner says nudged him back into political battle.
“My kids pretty much guilted me into running this time around,” said Trauner, who says his kids, 18 and 25, feel uneasy about their future with the way the country is being managed.
“They know their future is in jeopardy in a big way, in everything from the dysfunction in D.C. and the way that nothing gets done to the fact that we’re racking up debt that’s never been seen before,” said Trauner in an interview last week during a stop in Casper. It’s one of dozens of trips around the state Trauner and his staff are making leading up to the November elections.
This time around Trauner has his hopes set on Republican John Barrasso’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Barrasso is running for his third full term.
Healthcare is a major issue where Trauner feels politicians have failed younger people. “I was surprised how much young people were worried about it, I hadn’t thought about it when I was 18-years old,” said Trauner.
The national debt as well as student load debt are issues Trauner says concern young people he talks to. “That’s a system where kids are coming out $30,000 in debt–that doesn’t work.”
Trauner also says the state needs to diversify its economy and energy production by embracing new technology and pursuing renewable energy alongside coal and natural gas production. He also mentioned investment in high quality, stable broadband internet as a way to encourage new business and manufacturing in the state.
“People are fed up with blind partisanship,” continued Trauner. “They just want to see things get done.”
“It takes building bridges, it takes listening and talking to people you disagree with on a lot of things but may agree with on specific things you can find common ground on,” said Trauner.
In this campaign, Trauner has used social media to interact with supporters and non-supporters alike. He does a weekly Facebook Live event where he says every question is answered, even those that may be negative or unfavorable.
Trauner says he is “country before party” and believes Sen. Barrasso, who sits on a number of committees and is often seen on TV along powerful Republicans, is more interested in party.
“I get comments from people all the time from all over the political spectrum saying ‘I’m kinda tired of seeing him stand behind (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell'” said Trauner.
“We need to get back to doing what is good for everybody, not just good for your party.”