THE ROAD TO THE CAPITOL: Politics Is a Circus, Says a Casper Resident

Race between Liz Cheney and Harriet Hageman seen as fighting against each other rather than for Wyoming voters

  • Published In: Politics
  • Last Updated: Aug 09, 2022

By Shen Wu Tan

Special to the Wyoming Truth

CASPER, Wyo. – Jessica Steward has a theory about national politics: No matter which side of the aisle, it’s all a big spectacle.

“I really don’t side [with] or believe in any of them [politicians] at this point,” said Steward, 36, a registered Republican who works in marketing.

Relaxing outside the Metro Coffee Company with her friend, Valorie Lyman, Steward reflected on the state of politics today. “I just view it as a circus at this point…And I think it all trickles downhill,” she said. “So, I really don’t know if I want to be involved in that circus. I don’t know if anybody is really truthful or wants to make a difference…”

Steward has been a faithful voter since age 18. But now she is on the fence about voting in the Aug. 16 primary to select party nominees for U.S. House of Representatives. She may prefer to concentrate on more local elections, where she feels there are less shenanigans.

Valorie Lyman (left) and Jessica Steward, both of Casper, sit outside the Metro Coffee Company. To them, women’s rights, the economy, minimum wage and marijuana legalization are pressing issues in Wyoming. (Wyoming Truth photo by Shen Wu Tan)

Meanwhile Lyman, 30, also a registered Republican and a student advisor, intends to vote next week, but has yet to select a candidate. She’s ruled out Rep. Liz Cheney and plans to conduct more research before making a decision.

“I don’t like to blindly vote; that’s not something I’m in support of,” she said.

Both friends agree about the battle between Cheney and Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed candidate for Wyoming’s lone House seat: It’s not focused on Wyoming voters.

“I feel like they’re not even fighting for votes, they’re just fighting against each other at this point,” Lyman said. “It doesn’t feel like they care about what they are going to do for our community or our state at all.….It doesn’t feel like we’re going to have any benefit from whoever wins or loses.”  

But Steward and Lyman differ on Cheney and her role as vice chair of the Jan. 6 select committee.

Lyman agrees with Cheney’s work on the committee, calling the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol “treason against our country.” But Steward dismisses Cheney as a “joke.”

Still, unlike some other Wyoming residents, the fact that Cheney is not a Wyoming native does not bother her.

“As long as she [Cheney] knows the ins or outs, or anybody, knows that of our state, I think an outside person coming in to scramble things up and change things is not a bad thing at all,” Steward said. “But she [Cheney] is not the right one to do it.”

Lyman did not vote for a House candidate in 2020. Steward voted in 2020, but doesn’t remember whether she wrote in someone’s name for the House race or left that part of the ballot blank.

“And that last time voting was when I decided, ‘Why am I voting? Why am I doing this? It doesn’t matter,’” Steward recalled.

In the friends’ eyes, the most pressing issues facing Wyoming are women’s rights, marijuana legalization, economic growth and minimum wage.

“I don’t condone abortion, but I also don’t condone anybody telling me what to do with my body,” Steward said. “I think another [issue] is our economy and just our wage-to-expense ratio is off the charts. And I have been looking at other communities to live in, and we have one of the worst economies and costs of living of anywhere nationally — even Houston, Texas is better than us.”

Lyman nodded in agreement.

“Women’s rights is definitely at the top of my list,” Lyman said. “I feel like women have the right of [being] pro-choice, pro-life. That’s their decision. It shouldn’t be the government’s decision to make that. Same with legalization of marijuana. I feel like Wyoming is losing thousands, if not millions, of dollars to our neighboring states who have marijuana legalized [whereas] our Wyoming residents are traveling across borders, illegally purchasing marijuana and traveling back to our state…”

And fast-forwarding to 2024, neither wants President Joe Biden to stay a second term.

Given a choice between Trump or Biden for 2024, both Lyman and Steward would pick Trump.

Our next stop: Mills.

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