Sunday, May 20, 2018

How Rex Rammell could win in November

A big thank you to M Lee Hasenauer, whose town hall meeting in Cheyenne on Saturday scored Tax Pledge signatures from two more gubernatorial candidates. He reports that Bill Dahlin and Rex Rammell both signed the pledge at the meeting.

Well done, M Lee! Let us see what Sam Galeotos and Mark Gordon are going to do. I have been told by Galeotos staffers that he is opposed to higher taxes, and Gordon has indicated interest in the pledge.

Rammell's signature on the pledge is important, as he has now declared himself a third party candidate:
gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell of Rock Springs says he is switching from the Republican Party ticket to the Constitution Party. Rammell's move makes it easier for him to get on the general election ballot in November by avoiding a crowded GOP primary contest that now has six Republican candidates. The Wyoming Constitution Party holds its convention this weekend in Lusk. Rammell tells the Casper Star-Tribune that he believes that moderate voters will carry state Treasurer Mark Gordon to victory in the Republican primary but that more conservative voters will abandon Gordon in the general election. Mary Throne is seeking the Democratic nomination.  
This opens for a couple of interesting scenarios for November that may affect the outcome of the August GOP primary, where the tax issue is going to be on the top. Ask any Republican office holder, and he or she will tell you that if there is one issue that gets voters going, it is taxes. The resistance to tax hikes across the state is solid, and it will only grow more solid when the members of the Revenue Committee over at the legislature starts whispering about tax hikes again.

Yes. As Rush Limbaugh often says, "don't doubt me". At their June 4-5 meeting in Riverton, the Revenue Committee is going to ask the state's Economic Analysis Division for an econometric study of the Wyoming economy. This is an unusual request: normally the committee does not care much about how higher taxes affect the Wyoming economy. Last year provided ample evidence of this, as they tried to impose $475 million and change in higher taxes on us, the taxpayers, and did to without as much as a yawn over how it would affect the state economy.

The only reason why they are now asking for an econometric study is - yes - yours truly. My testimonies and my prolific writing and speaking on this issue won the argument last time around; the Revenue Committee came up short because the only rational argument they could make was to agree with me: a tax hike of that magnitude is going to dramatically hurt the state. 

Since they did not want to admit that openly, they are now going to try another tactic. In an attempt to neutralize my arguments they are going to ask for an econometric study that will "prove" that half a billion dollars in higher taxes will not really hurt the economy.

I wish them good luck. They are going to need a lot of it...

That said, their renewed effort on this front is going to make sure that the tax issue remains on top of this election cycle. Therefore - to get back to the gubernatorial election - it will make a big difference whether or not a tax-pledge candidate wins the GOP primary in August. 

Suppose a non-pledge candidate wins. This sends a Republican into the November election who appears weaker on taxes than the third-party candidate Rex Rammell. Voters who do not want to see their tax bill go up - and there are a lot of them - are now going to be open to Rammell's message. This shifts the balance of the election, especially since Mary Throne, the Democrat alternative, is a relatively strong candidate who will get generous funding from out of state. 

Who would edge out as the winner? Not the Republican. Suppose Throne grabs 30 percent of the votes, just a smidge higher than Gosar got in 2014. The remaining 70 percent would be split between Rammell and the GOP candidate, which arithmetically speaking means one of them will win. 

However, suppose that Throne is able to reach 35 percent. She does not need more votes to do this, only that disgruntled Republicans stay home. In this situation, 65 percent split evenly means 32.5 percent each; all of a sudden, it will be a challenge for the GOP candidate to win. 

But can Rammell really give a GOP candidate a run for his votes? In a normal election year, no. But this is not a normal election year. With the tax issue at the top, with a Revenue Committee going full force after higher taxes, and with a Democrat candidate that will get more votes than Gosar did, the Republican party simply cannot afford a gubernatorial candidate that cannot firmly pledge against higher taxes. 

If they do, Rammell or Throne will win. It is foolish to under-estimate the power of a third party candidate this year.In 2014, Taylor Haynes and Cindy Hill got just over 44,000 votes; Democrat candidate Pete Gosar collected 45,700 votes.

Absent any other "third" candidate, and with voters focused on taxes, Rammell could beat a "normal" Democrat candidate. That means being within striking distance of 50,000 votes. Add to that the weakness of a non-pledge Republican candidate, which will send many Republican voters into Rammell's arms, and keep others home. 

Is it possible that the November election will be a face-off between Mary Throne and Rex Rammell?

Way too early to tell, of course, but that is not the point. What matters here is that if the GOP elects a gubernatorial candidate who is weak on taxes, we cannot rule out that the election will be between Rammell and Throne. 

So, who is Rex Rammell? Well, let's take a look. Check back here tomorrow.

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