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Republican Gordon wins second term as Wyoming governor

Wyoming

CHEYENNE, Wyoming (AP) — Republican Mark Gordon has won a second term as Wyoming’s governor, beating a little-known Democrat who has never held elected office.

He defeated Theresa Livingston, a retired educator and U.S. Bureau of Land Management employee. Neither candidate campaigned extensively.

Gordon ran on his efforts to diversify Wyoming’s economy away from fossil fuels, mentioning ongoing work to develop new uses for coal and an unconventional nuclear reactor. He sailed to victory on improving economic news for Wyoming.

“We feel energized for the next for years. We feel very good about Wyoming’s prospects,” Gordon said Tuesday. “We’ve got a full agenda ahead of us.”

He reiterated his campaign promises while pledging to “keep a very frugal budget.”

Gordon prevailed despite getting criticized by fellow Republicans for closing off businesses and public places during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. His pandemic response drew calls for a Republican to challenge him.

After lifting the restrictions in 2021 and shoring up his appeal to right-leaning voters on issues including abortion, he didn’t.

Last year, Gordon asked the National Rifle Association to consider moving its headquarters to Wyoming. Earlier this year, he signed into law a bill that would ban abortion in nearly all cases.

The NRA didn’t bite on his offer. The abortion law, which lawmakers crafted to take effect after the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversed the Roe v. Wade ruling in June, remains held up in state court and has yet to take effect. Even so, right-wing chatter about giving Gordon the boot diminished.

Meanwhile, one of the few Republicans who could have given him real trouble – Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman — ran for Congress instead, beating Liz Cheney in August.

Hageman finished third in the six-way GOP gubernatorial primary four years ago. Gordon won that year with 33% of the vote and this year dominated a four-way Republican field with 62%.

Gordon entered the final stretch of the governor’s race coinciding with the national midterm elections boosted by good news: State revenues, thanks to higher oil and natural gas prices, are up, taking pressure off a funding picture that forced Gordon and legislators to enact steep spending cuts in 2020 and 2021.

Livingston had no prior experience in elected office. In 2020, she lost a state Senate race to Ed Cooper, getting just 15% of the vote in the heavily Republican district covering Washakie and Big Horn counties and nearby areas.

Amid the uncertainty over whether Wyoming’s new abortion ban will take effect, Livingston said ensuring women had all of their rights was her top priority, followed by expanding access to Medicaid health coverage, like other states have done, under the Affordable Care Act.

Wyoming voters were also asked to consider two proposed state constitutional amendments. One would raise the mandatory retirement age of state judges from 70 to 75; the other would allow local governments to invest funds in equities.

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