Cheney candidacy recalls memories of another election back in 1978


The problem with our times is that the future is not what it used to be, oops then, again, perhaps it is! – A modified famous old quote.

Back to the future. Same old song. Here we go again. The more things change the more they stay the same . . . well, you get the picture.

Back in 1978, Wyoming voters went to the polls to vote for or against a young candidate named Cheney, who had spent most of his adult career out of the state. But this candidate had a resume that anticipated that he might make a splash in Washington D. C. in a bigger way than his opponent, an aggressive Democrat who was not nearly so well known outside of Wyoming.

Here in 2016, it is truly a nearly identical situation.

Today the candidate is Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Her father Dick was that Republican Congressional candidate back in 1978.

Dick Cheney won that election 28 years ago with 78,855 votes or 58.6 percent. Democrat Bill Bagley with 53,522 votes won 41.4 percent.

As in 1978, the big election news in this race occurred in the primary. Dick Cheney bested two guys, both of whom had previous statewide experience. Cheney got 28,568 votes in defeating former State Treasure/State Auditor (and state GOP chairman) Ed Witzenburger, who got 20,863 votes and Jack Gage, son of a former governor of the same name who mustered 18,075 votes.

Earlier this year, Liz Cheney knocked out two aggressive guys in State Sen. Leland Christensen (R-Alta) and State Rep. Tim Stubson (R-Casper) and a slew of others. Cheney topped the voting with 35,668 votes compared to Christensen’s 19,590 while Stubson got 15,608.

This year in the Nov. 8 general election, Liz Cheney squares off against a nice guy from Rock Springs named Ryan Greene, who easily won his primary.

We had earlier predicted that Cheney would best Greene by 3:1, which is not so much a knock on Greene but rather dealing with the reality of the huge Republican majority of voters in the state.

And although Cheney has a number of Republican critics who see her a resident of the state of Virginia and a “carpetbagger,” I just cannot see any of them crossing over and voting for Greene. In protest, they just might not vote at all.

It is now time for me to go on a limb and guess how many votes Cheney and Greene will get in their big race.

Drum roll, please: Cheney will get 171,923 votes. Greene will get 53,128 votes. Yes, it will be a 3:1 rout. Liz will apparently best her dad, both in number of votes won and by the size of her margin of victory, percentage-wise.

Two recent races for State Supt. of Public Instruction spoke volumes to me when it comes to how difficult it is for a Democrat to win a statewide race in Wyoming.

In 2010, then-State Sen. Mike Massie ran a magnificent campaign and got clobbered by Republican Cindy Hill, 113,026 to 71,772. Four years later, Cheyenne businessman Mike Ceballos also ran a wonderful campaign and got smashed by Jillian Balow, 99,244 to 62,208. In each case, the margin of victory made no sense when you analyzed the quality of the losing candidate, except for one thing – he was not a Republicans. Thus it is easy to predict routs in Wyoming’s general elections in today’s lopsided political environment.

Also back in 2012 during the last presidential election, Wyoming voters favored Republican Mitt Romney by more than 2:1 over national winner Democrat Barack Obama, 170,962 to 69,288. This was an amazing example of how different Wyoming voters are behaving compared to voters across the country. We are the reddest of the red states.

I think Democrat Hillary Clinton will do slightly better this year than Obama did four years ago but will still get trounced by Republican Donald Trump here. My prediction is that Trump will get 144,328 votes compared to Clinton’s 89,891. Ten days ago, it looked like Hillary would win the national election. But with recent FBI email revelations, this race just got tighter.

A year ago, I told everyone who would listen that this was going to be one of the most interesting presidential elections in the country’s history. My thought, though, was that it would be entertaining. It would be easy to have had a hunch that it would be nasty but who could have anticipated this?

For years to come, people will look back at this mess in disgust.

Will candidates ever be civil to each other again? Perhaps that is the biggest question coming out of this year’s activities.

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written six books. His newest is “Wyoming at 125,” which is now on sale at fine bookstores. His books are available at


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